Awesome Archaeology

 

Bones, stones, gold doubloons, mummies, and a chance to grub around in the dirt…what’s not to like about archaeology?

 

BOOKS: All About Archaeology

 imgres In Kate Duke’s Archaeologists Dig for Clues (HarperCollins, 1996), one of the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series, three kids and their pets accompany Sophie, an archaeologist, on a dig, asking questions every step of the way. A nice introduction to archaeology for ages 4-8.
 imgres-1 Mark Dubrowski and Cathy East Dubrowski’s Ice Mummy (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1998) in the “Step into Reading” series is the story of the 5000-year-old man found frozen in Alpine ice by a pair of hikers in 1991. Dubbed Otzi, this is Europe’s oldest natural human mummy. For ages 5-9.
 images-1 For older readers, see National Geographic’s Last Hours of the Iceman and NOVA’s Ice Mummies.
 imgres-2 Also for young archaeologists in the “Step Into Reading” series, see Edith Kunhardt Davis’s Pompeii…Buried Alive (1987), Judy Donnelly’s Tut’s Mummy: Lost…and Found (1988), and Mark Dubrowski’s Discovery in the Cave (2010).
 imgres-4 Jane O’Connor’s Hidden Army (Grosset & Dunlap, 2011) is the story of ancient China’s fabulous army of 7000 life-sized clay soldiers, discovered by farmers in 1974. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-5 Anne Millard’s A Street Through Time (Dorling Kindersley, 1996) is a series of wonderful panoramic drawings of the same riverside European location in fourteen different time periods, from 10,000 BCE – a Stone-Age hunters’ camp – to modern times. (An additional feature for readers: find the Where’s-Waldo-type hidden time traveler.) Archaeology in a nutshell, for all ages.
 imgres-6 Philip Steele’s A City Through Time (Dorling Kindersley, 2013) might better be called Cities Through Time – the idea is the same, but, unlike Anne Millard’s Street, these are clearly different cities. Readers progress from a Greek colony in 550 BCE to a Roman city, a medieval city (with detailed castle), a 19th-century industrial port, and finally a modern metropolis (with cutaway view of skyscraper). Included are annotated timelines with historical info. For ages 7-12.
 images Peter Kent’s City Across Time (Kingfisher, 2010) tracks an imaginary European city from the Stone Age to the present, with detailed drawings of what’s going on both above and below ground. As time moves on, today’s buildings and people become tomorrow’s rubble and bones. For ages 7-11.
 imgres-7 By Fran Hawk, The Story of the H.L. Hunley and Queenie’s Coin (Sleeping Bear Press, 2011) is the story of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, sunk during the Civil War, and recovered by marine archaeologists in 2000. For ages 7-12.
The Friends of the Hunley website has histories of the submarine and its crews, maps, photos of artifacts, a Hunley simulator, lesson plans and activities (K-college), and more.
 imgres-8 In the Eyewitness series, Archeology (Dorling Kindersley, 2000) is organized as a series of double-page spreads, covering such topics as “Preservation and decay,” “Looking at the landscape,” “All kinds of documents,” and “Buildings of the past.” Gorgeously illustrated with photographs of archaeological artifacts. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-9 Other Eyewitness books of potential interest to young archaeologists include Ancient China (2005), North American Indian (2005), Mesopotamia (2007), Ancient Greece (2007), Ancient Rome (2008), Ancient Egypt (2008), and Aztec, Inca, and Maya (2011). (Check out a reasonably complete list here.) For ages 8 and up.
  imgres-10 Susan E. Goodman’s Stones, Bones, and Petroglyphs (Atheneum, 1998) is a photo-illustrated overview of southwestern archaeology and the ancient Anasazi (or Puebloans) for ages 8-12.
 imgres-11 By Peter Lourie, The Lost World of the Anasazi: Exploring the Mysteries of Chaco Canyon (Boyds Mills Press, 2007) is a photo-illustrated account of the ancient Pueblo people of the American southwest, their mysterious disappearance in the 13th century, and the clues left behind at Chaco Canyon. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-12 Anthony Aveni’s Buried Beneath Us: Discovering the Ancient Cities of the Americas (Roaring Brook Press, 2013) begins with the discovery – by startled electrical workers – of the fabulous Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, beneath the streets of Mexico City. An information-packed and interesting read for ages 9-12.
 imgres-13 James Deem’s Bodies From the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005) is an enthralling account of what was once one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire, destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. The book describes what happened in the wake of the eruption and how archaeologists rediscovered the city. Illustrated with many photographs of excavations, artifacts, bones, and plaster molds of victims. Starred reviews. For ages 9-13.
 imgres-14 Also by Deem in the same format, see Bodies from the Ice (HMH, 2008) and Bodies from the Bog (HMH, 2003).
 imgres-15 Ilene Cooper’s The Dead Sea Scrolls (HarperCollins, 1997) is the story of what has been called the “greatest archaeological discovery of the twentieth century:” a collection of over 900 ancient texts, discovered in the Qumran Cave on the shore of Israel’s Dead Sea.  Cooper discusses the history and significance of the scrolls, and how they were found and reconstructed by archaeologists. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-16 Digital Dead Sea Scrolls has images of the scrolls online with historical background information.
 imgres-17 The National Geographic Investigates Ancient Civilizations series is a collection of 64-page books on the archaeology and history of ancient cultures worldwide, each with maps, timelines, interviews with researchers, and gorgeous color photographs. Titles include Ancient Maya, Ancient Pueblo, Ancient China, Ancient Africa, Ancient Celts, and more. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-18 Marc Aronson’s If Stones Could Speak (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2010) is an award-winning account of the archaeology of Stonehenge, demonstrating how archaeologists work to solve ancient puzzles.  A recent hypothesis is that Stonehenge was a memorial to honor the dead, with a sister complex made of wood for the living. A fascinating read, illustrated with color photographs, for ages 10 and up.
From Smithsonian magazine, New Light on Stonehenge discusses the site’s history and summarizes recent research.
 imgres-19 David Macaulay’s Ship (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993) begins with a crew of underwater archaeologists recovering a sunken 15th-century ship from a reef near the Bahamas, then leaps back in time to follow the building of the ship and its eventual demise. Fictitious, but historically accurate; illustrated with terrific detailed architectural drawings. For ages 10 and up.
 images-2 Similar and equally wonderful books by Macaulay include Pyramid (HMH, 1982), Castle (HMH, 1982), Cathedral (Sandpiper, 1981), Mill (HMH, 1989), Mosque (HMH, 2008), and City (HMH, 1983) – this last “A Story of Roman Planning and Construction.”
 imgres-20 By Simon Adams, Archaeology Detectives (Barron’s Educational Series, 2009) is the story of great archaeologists and archaeological discoveries worldwide, illustrated with color photographs. Among the sites featured are India’s Mohenjo-Daro, the tomb of Tutankhamun, China’s terracotta warriors, Pompeii, and the palace of Knossos. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-21 Annual Editions: Archaeology (McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2012) is one of the extensive Annual Editions series, each of which is a collection of reader-friendly articles from popular magazines, newspapers, and books related to a specific topic. The Archaeology volume, for example, contains 38 articles on a wide range of archaeological topics, among them “All the King’s Sons” from the New Yorker, “Lost City of the Maya” from Smithsonian, “Uncovering America’s Pyramid Builders” from Discover, and “Lost Cities of the Amazon” from Scientific American. An excellent resource for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-27 By Johannes Loubser, Archaeology the Comic (Altamira Press, 2003) is an introductory archaeology text in the form of a graphic novel. The book follows the adventures of Squizee, a teenager and would-be archaeologist, and her mentor, a museum archaeologist named Dr. Holmes. Various chapters cover excavation techniques, dating methods, artifact cataloging and analysis, and a host of archaeological studies and controversies. A nice presentation for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-23 C.W. Ceram’s archaeological classic, Gods, Graves, and Scholars (Bantam, 1976), is an information-filled tale of adventure, romance, history, and science. The book is divided into four main sections: “The Book of the Statues,” which covers Pompeii, Troy, Mycenae, and Crete; “The Book of the Pyramids” (Egypt); “The Book of the Towers” (Assyria, Babylonia, and Sumeria); and “The Book of the Temples” (Aztecs, Mayas, and Toltecs). Chapters have such irresistible titles as “Evans: Crete and the Minotaur,” “Champollion: Treason and Hieroglyphics,” and “Layard: A Dilettante Outwits a Pasha.” A great read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-24 Michael Wood’s books – chatty and addictive mixes of archaeology and history – include In Search of the Dark Ages (BBC Books, 2007), In Search of the Trojan War (University of California Press, 1998), In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (University of California Press, 2001), and In Search of England (University of California Press, 2001). Wood’s titles have all (or almost all) been made into excellent film documentaries, available on DVD.
  images-3 James Deetz’s In Small Things Forgotten (Anchor Books, 1996) surveys the archaeology of early American life as revealed through such small and often-forgotten artifacts as doors and porches, chairs, grave markers, and pottery shards. A classic for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-25 Ivor Noel Hume’s Martin’s Hundred (University of Virginia Press, 1991) is a fascinating account of the excavation of Martin’s Hundred, a 17th-century English settlement in Virginia. Hume, for many years director of archaeological research at Colonial Williamsburg, is a terrific writer and the author of many excellent books on archaeology. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-26 Brian Fagan’s Time Detectives (Simon & Schuster, 1996) is a detailed account of how modern archaeologists use technology. (“Today archaeologists can identify Chinese silk from a single fabric strand, conjure up ancient landscapes from handfuls of tiny seeds and pollen grains, and use carbon isotopes to reconstruct prehistoric diets.”) The science behind the archaeology for teenagers and adults.

INDIANA JONES AND CO.

 images-4 Isabel Soto – dauntless archaeologist and world explorer – is the star of a series of graphic novels published by Capstone Press’s Graphic Library. Titles, variously by Terry Collins and Agnieszka Biskup, include Egypt’s Mysterious Pyramids, Uncovering Mummies, Escape from Pompeii, The Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellers, and Exploring Titanic. (Isabel also occasionally goes farther afield, as in Tracking Bigfoot and Searching for UFOs.) For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-28 In Caroline Ludovici’s The Obsidian Mask (Infinity Publishing, 2011), Natasha and Alex join their archaeologist mother at a dig near Medinabad, where the researchers have just unearthed an obsidian mask, once owned by an ancient Mesopotamian warrior queen. The story begins in 3000 BCE, then leaps to the (adventure-crammed) present day. The first of a trilogy for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-29 In David Macaulay’s Motel of the Mysteries (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1979), the year is 4022 and archaeologist Howard Carson is excavating what he believes to be a sacred burial chamber, lying just past a crumbling DO NOT DISTURB sign hung on an ancient doorknob. A clever spoof for ages 12 and up.
 imgres-30 Elizabeth Peters’s Crocodiles on the Sandbank (Grand Central Publishing, 2013) is the first of an extensive mystery series set in the late 19th century and starring feisty Egyptologist Amelia Peabody. (The author knows her stuff; she herself has a doctorate in Egyptology.) Among the subsequent titles are The Curse of the Pharaohs, The Mummy Case, and Lion in the Valley. Fun and exciting reads for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-31 Several of Agatha Christie’s mysteries have archaeological themes. (Christie’s husband, Max Mallowan, was an archaeologist.) See Inspired by Archaeology for information and book descriptions. Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia, for example, is set on an archaeological dig in Ur.
 images-5 “Dr. Indiana Jones is worse at recovering precious items than a magpie stuffed with explosives.” 8 Famous Fictional Archaeologists Who Suck at Their Job is a snarky overview of archaeologists in the movies for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-32 Michael Crichton’s Timeline (Ballantine Books, 2003) is a fast-paced thriller that pairs archaeologists, excavations of 14th-century French castles, the Hundred Years’ War, and a time machine. For teenagers and adults.
 images-6 Future archaeology. In outer space. Check out this list of 10 Space Archaeology Novels You Must Read.

MAGAZINES

 imgres-33 Dig, Cobblestone Publishing’s terrific archaeology and history magazine for kids, is packed with informational articles, illustrations, news, and activities. Sample issue titles include “Dogs: In the Beginning They Were Wolves,” “America’s First Cities,” “Amazing Earth Paintings,” and “Digging in the Valley of the Kings.” An annual subscription (nine issues) costs about $30; individual back issues are available for $6.95 apiece. For ages 9-14.
 imgres-42 Calliope, Cobblestone’s 52-page magazine of “World History for Young People,” also often features archaeological or ancient civilization themes. Sample issue titles include “The Aztecs,” “The Assyrians,” “The Babylonians,” and “Buried by Vesuvius.” An annual subscription (nine issues) costs about $30; individual back issues are available for $6.95 apiece. For ages 9-14.
 imgres-35 Archaeology magazine, published bimonthly by the Archaeological Institute of America, is aimed at adults and has a fairly sophisticated text, but the pictures – all in color – are great for persons of all ages. Each issue includes several feature articles about archaeological discoveries worldwide. An annual subscription costs about $15.

ARCHAEOLOGY ONLINE AND ON SCREEN

 images-7 In the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Maya Adventure, kids explore prominent Mayan archaeological sites.
 ruins-chaco-canyon In Annenberg Learner’s Collapse: Why Do Civilizations Fall?, students explore the fall of four major civilizations – the Maya, Mesopotamia, Chaco Canyon, and the west African kingdoms of Mali and Songhai. Included are interactive activities and an extensive resource list.
 imgres-36 In the PBS series Time Team America, archaeologists race to excavate historic sites around the nation. Visitors to the website can watch full episodes and access lots of helpful supplementary information.
 imgres-37 The idea for Time Team America came from the BBC’s reality TV series Time Team. For example, check out Time Team: Unearthing the Roman Invasion, a 12-part archaeological adventure on DVD.
 imgres-38 The History Channel’s Digging for Truth series, starring Josh Bernstein, deals with unsolved historical and archaeological mysteries, and each episode – after site visits, interviews with researchers, and investigation – ends with a working hypothesis. Titles include “Hunt for the Lost Ark,” “Secrets of the Nazca Lines,” “Mystery of the Anasazi,” “The Real Temple of Doom,” and “Roanoke: The Lost Colony.” Available on DVD or as Amazon Instant Videos.
 imgres-39 From PBS, the Secrets of the Dead series is an exciting mix of forensic science, archaeology, and history. Episode titles include Bones of the Buddha, Ultimate Tut, Caveman Cold Case, and Blackbeard’s Lost Ship. (View online or available on DVD.) Click on “Educators” at the website for lesson plans to accompany the episodes, aimed at middle- and high-school-level students.
 imgres-40 NOVA’s five-part Secrets of Lost Empires series includes “Medieval Siege,” “Pharaoh’s Obelisk,” “Easter Island,” “Roman Bath,” and “China Bridge.” The website has online teacher’s guides, background information, and creative activities.
 imgres-41 NOVA’s Mystery of the First Americans explores the discovery and controversy surrounding the 9000-year-old skeleton of Kennewick Man. The website has a teacher’s guide, supplementary information, and “The Dating Game,” an interactive explanation of radiocarbon dating.
Romancing the Stones is an interesting article from the European Journal of Archaeology on “Archaeology in Popular Cinema.” (There are problems.)
 images-8 Dig-It Games, founded by a professional archaeologist/middle-school teacher, makes archaeology-themed video games for kids, designed to promote puzzle- and problem-solving skills (and some history learning). Titles so far include Roman Town and Mayan Mysteries. For Mac, PC, and mobile devices.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS AND TREASURE HUNTERS

 imgres-43 Mike Venezia’s Mary Leakey: Archaeologist Who Really Dug Her Work (Children’s Press, 2009) is a delightful introductory biography of one of the foremost contributors to the history of human evolution, illustrated with photographs and clever little cartoons. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-44 By Laura Amy Schlitz, The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug for Troy (Candlewick, 2013) is a great 80-page biography of the problematic amateur archaeologist who found the ancient city of Troy. For ages 9-13.
 imgres-45 Paul Bahn’s The Great Archaeologists (Southwater, 2009) is a 96-page composite biography of 47 famous archaeologists, illustrated with color photographs.
 imgres-46 Vandal, thief – or undeservedly neglected archaeologist? Ivor Noel Hume’s Belzoni: The Giant Archaeologists Love to Hate (University of Virginia Press, 2011) is the biography of the early 19th-century Italian circus strongman Giovanni Belzoni who became one of the first Egyptologists. (Certainly he was the largest – 6’6” tall – and the most flamboyant). For teenagers and adults.
 images-9 The Great Belzoni is a great 50-minute film version of Belzoni’s life.
Who Owns Archaeological Artifacts? Just because you dug it up, doesn’t mean you get to take it home. Read all about it.
 imgres-47 Sharon Waxman’s Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World (Times Books, 2009) pairs trips to famous museums with visits to the countries where some of their most famous exhibits originated, dealing with the thorny question of who owns what. (Should the Elgin marbles go back to Greece?) An interesting topic for teenagers and adults.

ALMOST LIKE BEING THERE

 imgres-48 Stefania Perring’s Then & Now (Macmillan General Reference, 1991) is a collection of photographs of twenty famous ancient sites as they appear today paired with overlays of an artist’s reconstruction of what each site looked like originally. Included are the Parthenon, Machu Picchu, Pompeii, Angkor Wat, the Minoan palace of Knossos, and more. For all ages.
 imgres-49 Odyssey Online is a beautifully designed museum site in which visitors can explore the Near East, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, and the ancient Americas. Learn about people, mythology, daily life, death and burial, writing, and archaeology; click on artifacts to discover their histories; access maps; and find lists of books and helpful websites. A terrific resource.
 imgres-50 National Geographic’s Archaeology site has a gorgeous slide show on the history and practice of archaeology. See Machu Picchu, the Sphinx, Minoan art, Pompeii, and much more.
 imgres-51 Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur is an account of Leonard Woolley’s excavation of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur with a slide show of some of the fabulous artifacts found there.
 images-10 Teotihuacan: City of the Gods is an online photographic tour of the famous Mexican first-century religious center, featuring Pyramids of the Sun and Moon.
 imgres-52 The Anasazi Heritage Center website has an artifact gallery, an overview of Anasazi archaeological sites, and detailed info on the history and culture of the Anasazi.
 imgres-53 The Ancient City of Athens is a photo archive of ancient Greek buildings and archaeological sites. Check out the Acropolis.
 imgres-54 In this interactive game at Montreal’s Pointe-a-Calliere Museum website, visitors can become virtual archaeologists, digging through history to Montreal’s Stone Age past. (In English or French.) (Click on “Explore.”)
 hsc00a At Smith College’s Museum of Ancient Inventions, visitors click on color photographs of (many) artifacts to learn all about them. For example, check out a Sumerian lyre, a cuneiform cylinder seal, and an Aztec calendar wheel.

PROJECTS, PUZZLES, LESSON PLANS, AND ACTIVITIES

 imgres-55 Richard Panchyk’s Archaeology for Kids (Chicago Review Press, 2001) is a survey of archaeology, variously covering how archaeology works, human evolution, the Ice Age and the Neolithic, the first civilizations, ancient Greece and Rome, the New World, and historical archaeology. Included are maps and diagrams, photos, a timeline, and a helpful bibliography. There are also 25 hands-on projects, among them calculating height from a footprint mold, analyzing soil, practicing dendrochronology by counting tree rings, playing a seriation game (with photos of old cars), and making an ancient-Greek-style oil lamp. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-56 John White’s Hands-On Archaeology (Prufrock Press, 2006), an informational collection of “Hands-On Activities for Kids,” has a wealth of projects based on site research, excavation, field records, artifact preparation and cataloging, and more. Included are a lengthy appendix of teacher resources and reproducible forms and worksheets. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-57 By Steve Daniels and Nicholas David, The Archaeology Workbook (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982) is a collection of thirteen detailed fictional archaeological puzzles intended to accompany an introductory college archaeology course.  Challenging for older teenagers and adults with some archaeology background.
 imgres-59 From the University of Minnesota, Archaeological Methods has detailed background information, illustrations, instructions, and activities for introducing preschoolers and early-elementary-level kids to archaeology. Kids discover “What Bones Can Tell Us” (in detail; find out all about pelvic bones and skulls and assemble skeleton puzzles), and practice stratigraphy with chocolate pudding, gummy worms, and Oreos.
 imgres-58 From teacher Mr. Donn’s website, Archaeology for Kids is packed with kid-friendly information (What is an archaeologist? How do archaeologists find sites to explore?), along with short biographies of famous archaeologists, games, quizzes, and interactive activities.
 imgres-60 What to do with pottery shards? In Archeology Game, kids decorate clay flower pots, smash them (gently; you don’t want smithereens) in a paper bag, and then re-assemble them with glue, archaeologist-style.
 images-11 For kids, the Colonial Williamsburg Archaeological Research page has general information about archaeology, a couple of archaeology-based hands-on activities, and a gallery of children’s artifacts.
 imgres-61 Archaeology and Mysteries Activities has projects, puzzles, and simulations for young archaeologists of a wide range of ages. Titles include The Great Cheese Mystery, The Mystery of Tollund Man, and Discovering Richard III.
 imgres-62 From the Guardian Teacher Network, Archaeology Teaching Resources is a collection of free downloadable lesson plans and projects. Sample titles are “How to mummify an orange,” “How to make and excavate fake poo,” “Investigating historic buildings,” and “The Roman box.”
 imgres-63 The Archaeological Institute of America has a great series of AIA Lesson Plans, variously for grades K-12, with complete instructions. Sample titles are Aztec Codex, Greek Vase Painting, Layer Cake Archaeology, and Shoebox Dig.
 imgres-64 From the Smithsonian, Decoding the Past is an illustrated, printable, three-lesson introduction to archaeology in which kids learn to identify and interpret artifacts, and date soil layers. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-66 Dirt Detective in an animated interactive game in which kids learn about archaeological techniques with the help of a mole in an Indian-Jones-style hat.
 imgres-67 From the BBC, Archaeology is an information-packed and reader-friendly site, covering various subtypes of archaeology (including battlefield, aerial, and marine), archaeological techniques, artifacts, reconstructions, and excavations. Work through it all and test your knowledge with interactive quizzes.
 imgres-68 The Investigate Archaeology Files are a collection of free downloadable lessons and projects, among them Greek Writing, Make a Roman Sandal, Crop Marks, Historic Poo, Rot or Not, and Maths in a Monastery.
 images-12 The Society for American Archaeology has lesson plans, simulated archaeological dig projects, online archaeological adventures, and more for a range of ages. (Click on “For the Public.”) For example, Archaeologyland is a collection of hands-on archaeology-based activities for ages 5 and up, in which kids replicate pottery designs, make a pot puzzle, create petroglyphs, make a cordage bracelet, and more.
 imgres-69 Interact – a division of Social Studies School Service – publishes simulations that encourage kids to learn by doing. Click on “World History” to find simulations of interest to young archaeologists, among them Dig, in which participants divide into two groups, invent a civilization, and then fabricate artifacts and create a “dig” for the opposing team to excavate. Diggers then attempt to re-create the civilization of the opposite team from the archaeological evidence. For ages 12 and up.

COOL KITS AND GAMES

 imgres-70 With the Archaeology Pyramid Dig kit, kids use hammer, brush, chisel, and sponge to excavate a model pyramid containing a sarcophagus (with mummy) and an assortment of canopic urns. Included is an illustrated informational manual with additional activities. About $20. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-71 For the outdoor archaeologist, the Coleman Kids Archaeologist Kit has the basic tools of the trade – magnifying glass, sifter/trowel, tweezers, brush, and notebook – all packaged in a handy bag with pockets and a shoulder strap. About $24. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-65 Use the Archaeology Adventure Dig Activity Kit from Nature Watch to set up a complete (simulated) native American dig site, equipped with pottery shards, arrowheads, beads, and animal bones. The kit includes a good-sized screen for sifting and sorting findings and a detailed instructor’s guide. (Extra dig components can be ordered for larger group digs.) About $70. Can be used for a wide range of ages.
 imgres-72 In Archaeology: The Card Game, players take on the role of archaeologists – well, treasure hunters – competing to complete collections of pots, parchments, and artifacts to sell to museums (while combatting thieves and sandstorms). For 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up.
 imgres-73 From LEGO, archaeology-themed games – which players first build with Lego blocks, then play – include Ramses Pyramid, Ramses Return, and Minotaurus. Each comes with blocks and instructions, microfigures, and a buildable Lego die. For ages 8 and up.

REAL DIGS AND CITIZEN SCIENCE

 imgres-74 Finally, for those eager to get out in the field, armed with trowel, teaspoon, and paintbrush, and dig, the Archaeological Institute of America publishes the Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin (AFOB), a detailed list of digs, field schools, and programs with positions for volunteers or students. (The bad part: You don’t get to keep anything you find. The good part: It’s the finding that’s the most fun.)
 images-13 From the USDA Forest Service, Passport in Time is a long list of volunteer archaeological fieldwork and historical preservation opportunities at Forest Service-sponsored sites around the United States. (Cool family vacation.)
imgres Ancient Lives is a citizen science project in which participants help decode ancient Greek papyri. An online tutorial shows you what to do.

Also see ANCIENT EGYPT.

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Geology ROCKS!

 

Rocks! See below for books, projects, experiments, arts and crafts, and much more. Celebrate National Fossil Day, make eggshell geodes, take a nature walk with alphabet rocks, grow gorgeous crystals, play the ancient Asian game of Five Stones, and build your own catapult.

And don’t miss Earth Science Week, which is celebrated each year in October. Check out the website (see below) for ideas, activities, research projects, a photo gallery, and a state-by-state list of Earth Science organizations.

About Rocks and Minerals

 images By Dianna Hutts Aston, A Rock is Lively (Chronicle Books, 2012) is a beautifully designed and illustrated introduction to the world of rocks, feature by feature, in the same format as Aston’s previous nature picture books, among them An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-7 Steve Tomacek’s Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2010) in the Jump Into Science series is a colorful introduction to rocks covering the formation of the planet, the building blocks of rocks, and uses of rocks. Included is a project for making a rock of your own (using sand, pebbles, and white glue). For ages 4-8.
Also in the Jump Into Science series, see Tomacek’s Dirt (2007), which includes a soil stratification project, and Ellen Prager’s Sand (2006).
 imgres-1 Natalie M. Rosinsky’s Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth, and Rough (Picture Window Books, 2002) is a simple introduction to igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Included are a rock identification chart and an explanation of the Mohs Hardness Scale. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-2 The Mohs Hardness Scale was invented in 1812 by German mineralogist Frederich Mohs. This website explains the scale (in ten easy steps, from talc to diamond) and shows how a number of common items (fingernails, a penny) fall into place.
 imgres-3 In Joanna Cole’s The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth (Scholastic, 1989), the incomparable Ms. Frizzle – in hard hat and rock-patterned jumpsuit – takes her class on a journey to the center of the earth. (They return to the surface via volcanic eruption.) Information about rock layers and rocks is delivered through cartoon bubbles and hand-lettered student reports. For ages 6-11.
 imgres-4 Melissa Stewart’s Extreme Rocks and Minerals (HarperCollins, 2007) combines gorgeous color photos with a reader-friendly question-and-answer format. Sample questions: “What is a mineral?” “What is a rock?” “How do you identify sedimentary rocks?” “How are rocks recycled?” Included are links to relevant Smithsonian websites. For ages 6-11.
 imgres-5 Jacqui Bailey’s The Rock Factory (Picture Window Books, 2007) tells the story of the rock cycle through the adventures of one rock, born in the depths of a volcano. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-6 By Simon Basher and Dan Green, Rocks and Minerals (Kingfisher, 2009) covers the three rock types, ores, minerals, gems, and fossils in a fact-filled breezy text, giving each feature a first-person voice. Clay, for example, states, “I’m the type of mushy goo that can suck rain boots off your feet. My main ingredients are tiny particles that you can’t see unless you use an electron microscope.” Shale announces, “My experiences in becoming a rock have been brutal.” Illustrated with great little cartoon icons. One of an extensive science series, all good. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres Steve Tomacek’s reader-friendly National Geographic Kids: Everything Rocks and Minerals variously covers different types of rocks, uses of rocks (arrowheads, coal, the Taj Mahal), the rock cycle, gemstones, and rock collecting. Illustrated with gorgeous color photographs. An appealing read for ages 8-12.
 imgres-8 Mark Kurlansky’s The Story of Salt (Putnam Juvenile Books, 2006) is a picture-book history covering all aspects of salt. Fascinating for ages 8-12. (For teenagers and adults, see Kurlansky’s much longer Salt: A World History (Penguin Books, 2003).)
 imgres-9 Salt is the only mineral we eat. Learn more about sea salt, salt beds, salt domes, and more at About Salt. Included is a link to a site with instructions for making your own salt crystals.
 imgres-10 In the Eyewitness series, Rocks & Minerals (Dorling Kindersley, 2008) by R.F. Symes covers rock formation, weathering and erosion, the three basic kinds of rocks, fossils, gemstones, minerals, and precious metals, with separate sections devoted to limestone caves, rocks as tools, coal, rocks from space, and rock collecting. Each topic has a double-page spread, illustrated with spectacular photos and diagrams. The bulk of the text is in picture captions. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-11 By Rebecca Lawton, Diana Lawton, and Susan Panttaja, Discover Nature in the Rocks (Stackpole Books, 1997) is a family-friendly 200+-page survey of general geology, covering minerals, rocks, volcanoes, sediment, fossils, erosion, water, continents and tectonic plates, earthquakes, and rocks in space. Each chapter includes several activities (model sedimentary layers in a glass jar, bake a batch of volcano tarts, make a Pangaea puzzle), an interesting selection of further “Things to Think About,” and helpful book and video lists.
 imgres-12 By famed nonfiction writer John McPhee, Annals of the Former World (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000) is a fascinating geologic overview of the United States, based on a series of cross-country trips McPhee took in company with various geologists. Portions of the trip were published as separate earlier books (Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain, Rising From the Plains, Assembling California); Annals of the Former World includes them all, plus. Highly recommended for interested teenagers and adults.
 imgres-13 The Roadside Geology series (Mountain Press) has a volume for each state, detailing geological history and key features. Fun to keep in the car.
 images-1 Minerals in Our Environment is a cool poster showing the rooms of a house with numbered objects whose (often surprising) mineral composition is listed in the margins. The bathroom mirror, for example, contains feldspar, silica, and silver; living-room carpets contain limestone and selenium.
 images-2 At OneGeology, kids click on a cute little character to learn about geology, maps, rocks and minerals, fossils and dinosaurs, earthquakes, volcanoes, worldwide geology, energy, water, and earth processes. Each character’s page has kid-friendly information, interactive diagrams, video clips, photos, and a short quiz.
 images-3 Rock Hound Kids (“Helping Kids to Love Geology”) has a mineral photo gallery, interactive graphics on geology basics, an online rock game (“Who Am I?”), and resource lists for parents and teachers.
 images-4 The Smithsonian’s Department of Mineral Sciences has a wealth of resources, among them the incredible Dynamic Earth map (track earthquakes, volcanoes, impact craters, and plate boundaries) and the Global Volcanism Program (“10,000 years of volcanic activity at your fingertips”). Visitors can also check out (wonderful) ongoing exhibits, and learn about the Hope Diamond and the search for Antarctic meteorites.
 images-5 Bob’s Rock Shop is an online zine for rockhounds, with dozens of interesting articles. Click on the Table of Contents to find Rocks in the News, of which there’s much more than you might think. There’s also a page on rock and fossil stamps, info on rock-collecting hikes, rock and mineral identification guides, and an extensive bookstore.
 images-6 Got a question about rocks, minerals, volcanoes, earthquakes, mountains, maps, rivers, or any other geological topic? Go to Ask-a-Geologist.

Hands-On Rocks

 imgres-16 By Anthony D. Fredericks, Under One Rock (Dawn Publications, 2001) is a rhyming picture-book account of the ecosystems (“Bugs, Slugs, and Other Ughs”) to be found under rocks. An appendix of Field Notes provides more information on the creatures most likely to be found. Pair this one with an outdoor rock-turning expedition. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-17 Cindy Blobaum’s Geology Rocks! (Williamson Publishing, 1999), subtitled “50 Hands-On Activities to Explore the Earth,” is a witty and informational collection covering everything from rock types to earthquakes and the structure of the planet. For example, try mining with a chocolate chip cookie, make a sand sculpture, play a rock version of Tic-Tac-Toe. Illustrated with a mix of cartoon drawings and photographs. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-18 By Cynthia Light Brown, Explore Rocks and Minerals (Nomad Press, 2010) is a collection of 25 projects, activities, and experiments for rock lovers. Various chapters cover the structure of the earth, minerals and crystals, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, fossils, and rock collecting. Included are fact boxes and “Words 2 Know” lists. For example, kids make pumice (meringue) cookies, grow crystals and stalactites, make fossils, and more. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-27 From the Lawrence Hall of Science GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science) program, see Stories in Stone, a creative 8-lesson, 164-page earth science unit for grades 4-8. (To accompany it, you’ll need a sample rock and mineral collection; sources are listed. Also see below.) Working with samples, kids differentiate between rocks and minerals, classify both, identify “mystery rocks,” experiment with crystals, and make clay models to study the rock cycle and plate tectonics.
 freedownload23 From TOPScience, Rocks and Minerals is an 88-page, activity-based study unit for grades 6-12 (or younger), variously covering types of rocks, Mohs hardness scale, rock identification, the rock cycle, and more. The TOPScience units are impressively clever, with detailed teaching tips, background information, and instructions for building your own sophisticated scientific equipment out of practically nothing. Highly recommended.
 imgres-20 USGS Educational Resources has wonderful lesson plans, activity instructions, and downloadable teacher’s guides and student booklets on a wide range of environmental and earth science topics for grades K-6 and 7-12. Geology resource sub-categories include Geomagnetism, Astronomy and Astrogeology, Plate Tectonics, Geologic Maps, Rocks and Minerals, Fossils and Caves, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and more.
 images-3 Geology for Kids has interactive games, videos, lists of fun facts, and lesson plans. Kids can experiment online with rocks, minerals, and soils. Make quicksand and a vinegar volcano.
 imgres-21 Sponsored by the American Geosciences Institute, Earth Science Week has a long (long) alphabetized list of activities, categorized by grade level and based on the National Science Education Standards. Sample project titles: A Model of Three Faults, Chocolate Rock Cycle, Earthquake Machine, Geologic Age, Mud Fossils, and Rock Around the World.
 images-7 From Grand Canyon National Park, Geology Lesson Plans is a printable collection of informational activities with detailed instructions. Titles include “What’s Inside the Earth?” “Plate Tectonics,” “Which Rock Am I?” “Grand Canyon Geologic Timeline,” and “Fossilization Game.”
 imgres-22 Earth Learning Idea posts a new earth-related teaching idea or project every week.
 images-8 From National Geographic, Quiz Your Noodle is an interactive multiple-choice quiz on geology.
 imgres-23 Discover with Dr. Cool science kits are terrific resources for young rock lovers. Among these: the Mine for Gems and Mine for Fossils kits, which come with digging tool, brush, and ten high-quality specimens embedded in a digging block; the Learn How to Pan for Gold kit, which has a prospector’s pan, mining tools, and two bags of “pay dirt” which contain – in lieu of actual gold – pyrite nuggets; and the Glow Rocks kit, which has a portable UV lamp, six fluorescent rock specimens, and an adventure guide. Very cool.
 imgres-24 The Microslide Viewer is a truly terrific little apparatus – it looks a bit like a microscope (though is cheap, lightweight, washable, and pretty much indestructible) and can be used to view strips of photomicrographs (microslides), collections of eight or more photographs taken through microscopes at various degrees of magnification. There are dozens of microslide sets, among them “Rocks and Rock-Forming Minerals,” “Fossils,” and “Mineral Characteristics and Identification,” each a fascinating series of thin sections. (See granite, really close-up.) Viewers cost about $10; microslide sets about $6. Highly recommended. Available from a number of science suppliers; I had the best and most cost-effective luck at Amazon.com.
 Playful-Ways-to-Teach-Young-Kids-About-Rocks 30 Playful Ways to Teach Young Kids About Rocks is a great collection of rock activities for the very young, including a make-your-own-rock activity, a percussion rock band project, a letter R craft (with rocks), and more.
imgres-28 This Planet Really Rocks  has great activities for rock-lovers. Tackle a Famous Rock Scavenger Hunt, make eggshell geodes, bake sedimentary rock snacks, make a paper model of granite, and more.
 imgres-25 Home Science Tools carries a range of materials for geology fans, including rock and mineral collections, an earth cross-section model, soil test lab kits, gold panning gravel, and volcano kits.
 imgres-25 MiniMe Geology is a source for rock cycle, rock, and mineral kits, starter rock collections, individual rock and mineral samples, and geology equipment for rock hounds. Also at the site are a series of fascinating geology articles on a wide range of topics and an illustrated and annotated list of birthstones.
 imgres-26 Geology.com is a terrific source for information about geology and earth science, along with books, field guides, maps, and geology equipment (everything from rock hammers to gold pans). Click on Teacher Resources for an excellent collection of resources and activities, among them a plate tectonics animation, rock and mineral identification helps, information on buying and using a rock tumbler, and Adaptive Earth Science Activities, an 80-page printable booklet of geology and earth science projects, among them “Parking Lot Gravel,” “Spelunking,” “Rock Riddles,” “Mighty Metamorphic Power Rocks,” and “Modeling Geologic Columns with Sand Art.” For each are included a materials list, step-by-step instructions, and follow-up questions.
 imgres-26 From the Geological Society of America, Resources for K-12 Earth Science Educators is a long list of lesson plans and hands-on projects for elementary, intermediate, and secondary students, categorized by topic – among these “Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” “Geology and Geologic Time,” “Paleontology and Evolution,” “Plate Tectonics,” and “Rocks, Minerals, and Mining.”
 images-1 Polish rocks! Home Science Tools has a nice assortment of rock tumblers, grit, and ready-to-polish rocks.
 images-9 Break your own geodes! (Put them in a sock and smack them with a hammer to reveal an inner cavity filled with crystals.) Available from several sources; a box of ten, each 1-2 inches in diameter, is available here. About $10.
 imgres-29 For the dramatic geologist, Geology ROCKS! (Bad Wolf Press) is a 25-minute musical for elementary-level kids. The plot: Professor Rock has disappeared and his students head out on a quest to find him, with the dubious help of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. En route they encounter volcanoes and other geological features, and learn about the rock cycle. Script, teacher’s guide, and musical CD cost $39.95.
 imgres-30 Five Stones is a game believed to have originated in ancient Asia. It’s like jacks, with a twist. All you need to play is hand-eye coordination and five small stones. Another reason to collect pebbles.

 Planet Earth, or Third Rock From the Sun

 images-10 Gail Gibbons’s Planet Earth/Inside Out (HarperCollins, 1997) is a brightly colored picture-book survey of geology, covering the formation and structure of the earth, volcanoes, earthquakes, and the three major types of rocks. A simple straightforward introduction for ages 5-8.
 imgres-19 Seymour Simon’s Volcanoes (HarperCollins, 1996) covers the origin of volcanoes and famous volcanoes worldwide with beautiful color photographs and diagrams. For ages 6-10.
In the same format, see Seymour Simon’s Earthquakes (HarperCollins, 2006).
 imgres-31 By Matthys Levy and Mario Salvadori, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis (Chicago Review Press, 2009) explains the science behind earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunami waves, with helpful black-and-white illustrations, diagrams, and many projects, demonstrations, and experiments. For example, kids simulate the behavior of tectonic plates using a hardboiled egg, build a model seismograph, and demonstrate ground shocks with a Slinky. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-32 By Dinah Zikes, The Earth Science Book (John Wiley & Sons, 1993) is an informational activity book in seven chapters, variously covering the Earth, Matter, the Lithosphere (rocks), the Hydrosphere, the Atmosphere, Life, and Our Changing Earth. Included are clear explanations, many black-and-white illustrations and diagrams, fact boxes, and “Famous Faces” with brief biographies of important scientists. For ages 7-11.
 images-11 Geology Labs Online are free web-based activities targeted at students in middle school and up. Each lab – Virtual Earthquake, Virtual Dating, and Virtual River – has images, demonstrations, tutorials, and a series of tasks that involve observation, measurement, and data analysis. (Finish and you get a cool congratulatory certificate.)

Special Rocks

 imgres-33 Leslie McGuirk’s photo-illustrated If Rocks Could Sing (Tricycle Press, 2011) is a “Discovered Alphabet” in rocks, all found on the beach near the author’s home. B, for example, is for Bird, and features both a rock shaped like the letter B and a bird-shaped rock in a nest. What a great idea for a family rock-hunting project. For ages 3 and up.
 Alphabet-Rocks- Take a Nature Walk with Alphabet Rocks. In this fun activity, kids paint the letters of the alphabet on rocks, then take a hike and distribute their rocks in appropriate locations outdoors. (F next to a flower; G in the grass?)
imgres-37 Byrd Baylor’s wonderful picture book Everybody Needs a Rock (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011) tells readers just how to choose their own very special rock. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-34 Peggy Christian’s If You Find a Rock (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008) – illustrated with lovely color-tinted photographs by Barbara Hirsch Lember – is a celebration of all the possibilities to be found in rocks: skipping stones, chalk rocks for drawing on sidewalks, mossy rocks for resting on beside a trail, wishing rocks, and more. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-35 In Lucille Clifton’s The Lucky Stone (Yearling, 1986), Tee loves her great-grandmother’s stories of the family lucky stone (“a warm stone, shiny black as nighttime”) that has brought good luck to its owners for over a hundred years – first helping Mandy, a runaway slave, find her way to freedom. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-38 Fairy stones or fairy crosses – actually crystals of staurolite – are found in the Smoky Mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia. Said to bring good luck to their owners. (Charles Lindbergh – a.k.a. Lucky Lindy – carried one.) Read about them here – or go hunt for your own at Virginia’s Fairy Stone Park.
image Rocks! They make great souvenirs. Check out some of the collectibles in the Smithsonian’s Souvenirs exhibit, among them pieces of Plymouth Rock, the Bastille, and the Berlin Wall, and a stone from Joan of Arc’s dungeon.

Rock Collecting

 imgres-42 By Roma Gans, Let’s Go Rock Collecting (HarperCollins, 1997) in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series covers rock formation, types of rocks, uses of rocks (Roman roads, Egyptian pyramids), and rock collecting. (“The oldest things you can collect are rocks.”) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-39 Carol Otis Hurst’s Rocks in His Head (Greenwillow Books, 2001) is the picture-book story of her father, an avid rock collector, who – after losing his job during the Great Depression – used his passion for rocks to win a job as Curator of Mineralogy at a science museum. It’s a great story of following a dream, even though people around him always mocked him, saying that he had rocks in his head. (To which he replied, “Maybe I have.”) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-40 In Gail Langer Karwoski’s Julie the Rockhound (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2007), Julie finds a piece of quartz – and immediately becomes fascinated with rocks and minerals. Included are helpful instructions for hopeful rock collectors. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-41 The title character of Anna Browning’s Tanner Turbeyfill and the Moon Rocks (Diamond DMT Publishing, 2013) needs only one thing to make his rock collection complete: moon rocks! So off he goes to the moon. Facts about the moon and moon rocks are presented through Tanner’s Moon Journal. For ages 5-8.

Geological Time, or the Long, Long, Long History of Rocks

 imgres-36 In Judi Kurjian’s In My Own Backyard (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000), a child looks out a bedroom window and wonders who lived here before – and suddenly is plunged into a trip backwards through time, sequentially viewing colonists, native Americans, glaciers and woolly mammoths, dinosaurs and swamps. Included is a timeline. For ages 3-8.
 images-12 Virginia Lee Burton’s updated Life Story (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) – originally published in 1962 – is the story of life on Earth in four acts, from the creation of the solar system to the present day. A great resource for all ages.
 imgres-43 The star of Meredith Hooper’s The Pebble in My Pocket (Viking Juvenile Books, 1996) is a pebble that originated in a volcano 480 million years ago. The book follows the pebble through geologic time, step by step, to the present day, when it’s found on the ground by a young girl. Included is a timeline. For ages 8-11.
 imgres-44 Bruce Hiscock’s picture book The Big Rock (Aladdin, 1999) is the multi-million-year story of a granite boulder in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Read it and you’ll never take rocks for granted again. We read it on a picnic on a big rock in the woods and our kids were awed. (“This rock saw dinosaurs!”) For ages 5-10.
 imgres-45 From the University of California Museum of Paleontology, learn all about the Geologic Time Scale.
 imgres-46 Camels Often Sit Down Carefully…Check out this useful mnemonic for memorizing the geological periods in descending order of age.

Fossils

 imgres-47 Aliki’s Fossils Tell of Long Ago (HarperCollins, 1990) is a charmingly illustrated introduction to fossils in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series for ages 4-8.
 imgres-48 Laurence Anholt’s Stone Girl, Bone Girl (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2006) is a picture-book of Mary Anning, who at the age of 12 discovered the skeleton of an ichthyosaur in a cliff near her seaside home in England and went on to become a famous fossil hunter. (One story holds that she was the inspiration behind the traditional tongue-twister “She sells seashells by the seashore.”) For ages 6-9.
 imgres-49 Laura Evert’s Rocks, Fossils, and Arrowheads (Cooper Square Publishing, 2001) in the Take-Along Guide series in an informational survey of rocks, minerals, fossils, arrowheads, and artifacts, with illustrations of key samples, suggestions on where to find, and assorted interesting facts. Also included are pages for field notes and project ideas (make rock candy, create your own fossil, design a friendship necklace). For ages 6-9.
  From Smithsonian magazine, read about The World’s Largest Fossil Wilderness.
 imgres-50 Fossils Rock is a wide-ranging site all about fossils with many examples, extreme fossil facts, coloring pages, puzzles, suggestions for starting a geology club, and a detailed series of lessons on the Clock of Eras, an investigation of geologic time. Included are a printable Clock and a recipe for geologic layer cake.
  imgres-51 From the National Park Service, National Fossil Day (in 2013, falls on October 16) has an Art & Photo Contest, general information, and a Kid’s Page with games, activities, a “Meet a Paleontologist” feature, a list of state fossils, and more. The multidisciplinary activities – there’s a long list – includes the downloadable Paleontologist’s Path (available for grades 1-3, 4-6, and 7-12), which includes activity sheets, game cards, paper fossils, and a fossil identification packet.
 images-14 From USGS. Fossils, Rocks, and Time is a unit on ordering fossils, the geologic time scale, rock layers, and fossil succession, illustrated with period photos and diagrams.
 imgres-53 David Attenborough’s Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives is a wonderful four-part series on fossils and life on prehistoric Earth. Available on DVD.
 imgres-52 Educational Fossils has several different fossil kits for sale; one of the most popular contains 12 fossils (among them a trilobite, an ammonite, and a sample of dinosaur bone) with descriptive cards and a geologic time chart. $18.

Jewels and Gems

 imgres-54 The Gems: Nature’s Jewels series (Gareth Stevens Publishing) by Eric Ethan is a collection of short picture books, each devoted to a different gem. Titles include Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies, Turquoise, Opals, and Sapphires. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-55 In the Eyewitness series, Crystal & Gem (Dorling Kindersley, 2007) by R.F. Symes and R.R. Harding covers crystal structure, color, identification, uses, and lore and legends, with individual sections devoted to quartz, diamond, corundum, beryl, and opal. Illustrated with spectacular photographs and diagrams. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-56 Victoria Finlay’s Jewels: A Secret History (Ballantine Books, 2006) is a fascinating and information-crammed history of gems, variously covering the stories behind amber, jet, pearl, opal, peridot, sapphire, ruby, emerald, and diamond. An absorbing read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-59 The Mineral & Gemstone Kingdom is a comprehensive online guide to minerals and gemstones. Click on a name for a wealth of information, illustrated with photographs.
 images-13 Check out the Smithsonian’s fabulous Gem Gallery.  Click on a thumbnail for a photograph and explanation. In alphabetical order from afghanite and agate to zircon and zoisite.
 imgres-57 From the Burke Museum, learn about the Science and Legends Behind Birthstones.
 imgres-58 Crystal-growing kits are available from many science suppliers, among them Edmund Scientifics and Discover This.

Rocks and Math

 imgres-60 Stuart J. Murphy’s Dave’s Down-to-Earth Rock Shop (HarperCollins, 2000) in the MathStart series is all about sorting and classification. Josh and Amy have started collecting rocks and need to put their finds in some sort of order. They get help from their neighborhood rock shop, whose window first displays rocks sorted by size and color, then by rock type and Mohs’ scale of hardness. For ages 5-8.
 images-15 Mancala or the African Stone Game – traditionally played with stones and pits dug in the ground – is one of the oldest strategy games in the world. This website has instructions and suggestions for homemade playing boards. (Try an egg carton, plus pebbles or dried beans.)
Play Mancala online.
 gameboard Sticks and Stones is a lesson plan based on the traditional Apache game of throw sticks. Kids make decorated throw sticks and a stone playing board; then collect data and determine the probability of various outcomes. Fun and clever.
 rstones Roman Board Games has game descriptions and images of playing boards and stone counters for such games as Calculi (Roman checkers) and Tabula (a version of backgammon).
 imgres-61 The ancient Asian game of Go was traditionally played with black and white stones. Learn its history and find out how to play here.

Geology and Poetry

 imgres-62 By Lisa Westberg Peters, Earthshake: Poems From the Ground Up (Greenwillow, 2003) is a beautifully illustrated collection of 22 geology-based poems. Titles include “Instructions for the Earth’s Dishwasher,” “Wyoming Layer Cake,” “Obituary for a Clam,” and “Recipe for Granite.” For ages 6-12.
 imgres-63 By Robert Browning, Among the Rocks.
 imgres-64 By Ken Nesbitt, A Rock Makes An Excellent Puppy.
 imgres-65 Between a Rock and a Bard – a joint celebration of National Poetry Day and Earth Science Week – discusses geology and poetry, with examples.
 imgres-65 From the Geological Society, Poetry and Geology has online talks and and a selection of geology-related poems.
 imgres-65 The Sciences Sing a Lullabye. Love this poem. (“Geology says: it will be all right.”)

Famous Rocks

 imgres-66 Jean L.S. Patrick’s Who Carved the Mountain? The Story of Mount Rushmore (Mount Rushmore History Association, 2005) is a fact-filled picture-book account of the making of the famous national monument featuring the sculpted faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Included is a timeline and bibliography. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-67 From the National Park Service, Mount Rushmore has information about the history of the carving. (Over 90% of it was done with dynamite.)
 imgres-68 Jean Fritz’s witty Who’s That Stepping on Plymouth Rock? (Puffin, 1998) is a history of the famous rock that became a national landmark – even though the Pilgrims almost certainly didn’t land upon it. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-69 John McPhee’s Travels of the Rock is a more detailed history of Plymouth Rock that originally appeared in the New Yorker magazine. A great read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-70 Rocks Around the World is an annotated photo gallery of famous rocks, each with a challenge question. (Click to see the answer.) Among the famous: Mount Rushmore, Independence Rock, Plymouth Rock, Ayer’s Rock, Stonehenge, and the Taj Mahal.
 imgres-71 Check out these photographs of 10 Famous Balancing Rocks worldwide.
 imgres-72 Learn about the Blarney Stone.
 imgres-73 Check out the Stone of Scone.
 imgres-74 History of Gibraltar is an illustrated history of the famously solid Rock of Gibraltar from prehistory to the present.
 imgres-75 What’s your state rock? (Vermont, it turns out, is geologically loaded: we have a state gem, three state rocks, a state mineral, and a state fossil. You?)

Rock Art, Ancient and New

 imgres-76 By Emily Arnold McCully, The Secret Cave (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2010) is the exciting picture-book story of how four young French boys discovered the Lascaux cave paintings. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-77 In Raymond Briggs’s Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age (Knopf, 2002), the Stone Age is all stone: Ug and his parents sleep in stone beds under stone blankets, and Ug, to his great discomfort, is even made to wear stone pants. As boy genius, however, Ug has ideas ahead of his time. (“Why can’t trousers be made of something else? Something softer?”) Eventually he invents the wheel and cooking, only to have both rejected by his parents, who don’t know how to cope with him. (“He’ll end up painting animals on the walls!” his mother cries in despair.) Which, in a final scene, Ug, now a grown man, does. The book, drawn in blocky panel cartoons, is funny, clever, and ultimately poignant; what looks like a joke soon becomes a parable about the difficulties inherent in trying to change the world for the better. For ages 7-11.
 imgres-78 Justen Denzel’s Boy of the Painted Cave (Puffin, 1996), set in France during the Stone Age, is the story of an orphaned 14-year-old boy who wants to be a cave painter – but is forbidden by the tribal leader. Cast from the tribe, he befriends a wild dog, is mentored by an aged painter named Graybear, and eventually comes into his own. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-79 Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a spectacular documentary on an expedition into France’s Chauvet caves to view artwork dating back 30,000 years. 90 minutes long, rated G. Available on DVD.
 imgres-80 Geri Schrab’s Weaving the Past with the Present is a coloring book of ancient North American petroglyphs and pictographs. About $7.
 images-16 Petroglyph Photos has a collection of great color photographs of petroglyphs from sites worldwide, including the American Southwest, Hawaii, India, Mexico, and Norway.
 imgres-81 In Linda Kranz’s rock-illustrated picture book Only One You (Cooper Square Publishing, 2006), Adri’s parents decide to pass down useful wisdom to their son (look for new friends, enjoy the simple things, don’t follow the crowd). The illustrations are brightly painted pebbles designed to look like fish. (Make some of your own.) For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-82 Linda Kranz’s photo-illustrated Let’s Rock (Cooper Square Publishing, 2003) is a collection of rock-painting projects with step-by-step instructions. For ages 6-12.
imgres-83 Natural Rock Art is a kit for creating painted pet rocks for ages 5 and up. About $10.
 rock_crafts_main_xl Martha Stewart’s Rock Crafts (“endless possibilities”) has suggestions for rock dominoes, rock bookends, rock refrigerator magnets, and helpful hints for making a lot of rock animals.
 ss_101930742_w Pebble Plaque is a project in which kids collect a batch of wonderful stones, then combine them with salt dough. The result is awesome.
 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA From Artists Helping Children, Rock Crafts for Kids has a long list of projects. Make a paperweight, a crystal rock garden, homemade stepping stones, a pebble mosaic, and a rock necklace.
 512Uq5e7qXL._SY450_ The Sculpture House Stone Carving Kit is targeted at beginners: included are carving tools, chunks of alabaster and soapstone, and an instruction booklet. About $28.
  Or check out this Soapstone Animal Carving Kit, with which kids ages 7 and up can make a stone bear and coyote. About $11.

 Rocks as Weapons

 images-17 The sling – the weapon that David used to down Goliath – is a truly ancient rock-throwing weapon. Read about its history here.
  Make your own sling! Making and Using the Venerable Hand Sling has historical background information and instructions.
 images-18 How to Make a Catapult for Kids has illustrated instructions for making several, categorized by distance, durability, ease of construction, easy of finding materials, and wow factor.
 imgres-84 Make a Marshmallow Catapult. You’ll need pencils and a cardboard box.
  Design and Make a Catapult is a fun challenge targeted at grades 3-6. The site has instructions, trigger questions, and background information on elasticity. For older kids, see the Physics Catapult Competition.
 images-19 Edmund Scientifics is a source for a variety of trebuchet and catapult kits, ranging from the large and expensive to the small and cheap.
 imgres-85 Tabletop Catapult: Build Your Own Siege Engine is a kit for building an historically accurate catapult. Included is a copy of William Gurstelle’s 192-page The Art of the Catapult.  About $29.
 imgres-86 William Gurstelle’s The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery (Chicago Review Press, 2004) is a collection of 10 working catapult projects with a lot of cool scientific and historical background information (and great emphasis on adult supervision and safety). For ages 11 and up.
 imgres-87 Curt Gabrielson’s Stomp Rockets, Catapults, and Kaleidoscopes (Chicago Review Press, 2008) is subtitled “30+ Amazing Science Projects You Can Build for Less that $1” – always a happy thought. The projects are categorized under Electricity and Magnetism; Sound, Light, and Perception; Mechanics; Fluids and Aerodynamics; Biology; and Chemistry. Each comes with a parts list, instructions, and a scientific explanation. (The catapult looks terrific.) For ages 9 and up, with help.
 imgres-88 Maxine Anderson’s Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself (Nomad Press, 2006) covers the life and times of Leonardo with 30 varied projects. For example, readers make plastic, walk-on-water shoes, a camera obscura, a helical air screw, invisible ink, and a catapult.

 Fictional Rocks and Magic Rocks

 imgres-89 In David McKee’s The Hill and the Rock (Andersen Press, 2011), Mr. and Mrs. Quest live on top of a hill with a wonderful view – except from the kitchen window, which is blocked by an enormous rock. Finally, frustrated, they roll the rock down the hill – with the result that the hill deflates like a balloon, goes flat, and then sinks to form a valley, leaving the Quests at the bottom of a hole. Luckily the rock rolls back down the slope and settles in front of the kitchen window again, the hill inflates, and all is restored to normal. For ages 3-6.
 imgres In Marcus Pfister’s, Milo and the Magical Stones (NorthSouth, 2010), Milo, a little mouse who lives in a cold cave on an island, finds a magical glowing stone that provides both light and heat. All the other (cold) mice promptly want stones of their own – though Balthazar, a particularly wise mouse, warns that if something is taken away from the island, something must be returned. The book then splits in two: there’s both a happy ending and a sad ending, depending. Basically, it’s a morality tale about environmental responsibility. For ages 3-7.
 images-20 By Sara Azizi, The Knight, the Princess, and the Magic Rock (Wisdom Tales, 2012) is a picture-book re-telling of the traditional Persian tale about Bijan, a brave knight, who falls in love with Manijeh, princess of an enemy kingdom, and ends up imprisoned in a pit covered by a magic rock. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-92 In Caryn Yacowitz’s The Jade Stone (Pelican Publishing, 2005), a retelling of a traditional tale, the Great Emperor of China gives a stone carver a perfect piece of green-and-white jade and demands that it be made into a dragon – but the carver, a true artist, knows that this is not what the stone wants to be. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-1 In Arnold Lobel’s Mouse Soup (HarperCollins, 2011), a dimwitted weasel catches a mouse with the intention of turning him into soup. Luckily the mouse turns the tables by means of four stories, among them the tale of “Two Large Stones.”  Delightful for ages 4-8.
 imgres-2 In Marcia Brown’s Caldecott-winning Stone Soup (Aladdin, 1997), originally published in 1947, three soldiers trudging home from the war come to a little French village, where the peasants rush to hide their food – until the clever soldiers begin to prepare a batch of Stone Soup. Soon everyone comes forward to offer ingredients, and in no time there’s a wonderful feast and a town party. For ages 4-8.
  For a video version of Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup, see the Caldecott Literature Series: Stone Soup. Alternative video versions can be found at Speakaboos: Stone Soup or at Vimeo: Stone Soup.
  For many more Stone Soup books and resources, see BEAUTIFUL SOUP.
 imgres-95 By Marc Harshman and Bonnie Collins, Rocks in My Pockets (Quarrier Press, 2002) is the story of the Woods family who live on a high mountain where the winds are so wild that they must carry rocks in their pockets to keep from being blown away. They also play games with the rocks, tell stories with rocks, and heat their beds with rocks. Then visitors from the city admire the Woods’s rocks and buy some to take home – which starts a positive run on rocks. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-97 In Chris Van Allsburg’s The Wretched Stone (Houghton Mifflin, 1991), told through a ship captain’s log, the crew has brought on board a mysterious glowing stone found on a desert island. They become obsessed with the stone, which has terrible effects; soon all have been transformed into apes. They’re saved by a near-shipwreck that sends the stone to the bottom of the sea. An object lesson about the perils of too much TV for ages 5-9.
 imgres-98 In William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (Aladdin, 2006), Sylvester, a young donkey, collects pebbles “of unusual shape and color.” One rainy Saturday he finds a magic pebble, capable of granting wishes – but on the way home to tell his parents the news, he encounters a lion, panics, and saves himself by wishing to be turned into a rock. The problem: he’s dropped the pebble and can’t wish himself back again. For ages 5-8.
  Watch a video version of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble here.
  The Teaching Children Philosophy website has guidelines and discussion questions to accompany Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.
 imgres-99 Eric Kimmel’s Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock (Holiday House, 1990) is a West African folktale featuring Anansi, the trickster spider, who finds a moss-covered rock that magically puts animals to sleep. He comes up with a nefarious scheme in which he leads animals to the rock, puts them to sleep, and then steals their stores of food – until shy little Bush Deer puts a spoke in his wheel. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-1 Gary Schmidt’s 32-page The Great Stone Face (Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, 2005) is a re-telling of the classic Nathaniel Hawthorne tale in which a prophecy holds that someone will be born who looks just like New Hampshire’s Great Stone Face – the rock formation commonly called the Old Man of the Mountains – and he will be “the noblest person of his time.” For ages 7-11.
 imgres Read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Great Stone Face online here.
 imgres-2 The Great Stone Face – a.k.a. the Old Man of the Mountains – is no more; once a series of granite ledges on Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Great Stone Face broke away and fell in 2003. Read about its history here.
 imgres-3 Rebecca Rupp’s The Waterstone (Candlewick, 2005) features a quartet of tiny characters – Tad and Birdie of the Fisher Tribe, Ditany of the Hunters, and Will of the Diggers – who are on a quest to regain the fabled Waterstone from a powerful and evil nixie who is withholding the world’s water. This one got a STARRED REVIEW from Kirkus! For ages 9-12.
 imgres-4 Is there anyone in the world who hasn’t read Harry Potter? In Book One of J.K. Rowling’s ubiquitous series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or, in England, Philosopher’s Stone) (Scholastic, 1999), Harry and his Hogwarts pals attempt to prevent the evil Lord Voldemort from stealing the fabled sorcerer’s stone. For ages 9 and up.
  Read about The Philosopher’s Stone  - in alchemy a substance supposedly capable of turning base metals into gold.
 imgres-5 T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone (Philomel, 1993) is the first part of his much longer King Arthur saga, The Once and Future King. This is a stand-alone family read, the story of Sir Ector’s ward, young Wart, and his astonishing education by the old wizard, Merlin, culminating with his pulling the sword from the stone and revealing himself as King Arthur. Wonderful for ages 9 and up.
 imgres-6 Paula Fox’s The Stone-Faced Boy (Front Street, 2005) is the story of Gus, middle child in a large and noisy family, who hides his emotions behind an expressionless face. The only person who understands seems to be his great-aunt Hattie – who gives him a geode, a rock filled with beautiful crystals inside. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-3 Grow Magic Rocks! This kit comes with a tank, ingredients, instructions, and (depending on the version) a figurine of a shipwreck, shark, pirate treasure chest, or octopus. Rapidly grows a forest of dramatic crystals. Recommended for ages 10 and up without supervision; all ages with. Kits cost about $10.
  Make Your Own Magic Rocks explains how to make your own chemical crystal garden (though adds dampingly that most of the colorants “require access to a general chemistry lab”).
  From Science Buddies, see Guide to Purchasing Chemicals, which has explanations, a common-names list, and suppliers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MOO! All About Cows

 

Check out these lists for typing cows, flying cows, purple cows, and pirate cows; find out what cows have to do with whales; and learn all about sacred cows, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, and the cow that jumped over the moon. (There was even a lunar space probe named Cow.)

COOL FICTIONAL COWS

 imgres By Woody Jackson, A Cow’s Alfalfa-Bet (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2003) is a Holstein-cow-themed alphabet book illustrated with gorgeous watercolors. (A is for Alfalfa, B for Barn, C for Corn.) For ages 3 and up.
 imgres-1 Phyllis Gershator’s Moo, Moo Brown Cow! Have You Any Milk? (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2011) is a clever extension of the familiar nursery rhyme “Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?” – explaining that wool makes a blanket for a little boy’s bed. The rhyme moves on to “Honk, honk, gray goose, have you any down?” (for the pillow), then to bees, hen, and cow, who furnish a bedtime snack. The book ends with animals and boy asleep. A lovely bedtime pick for ages 2-5.
 imgres-2 In Andy Cutbill’s The Cow That Laid an Egg (HarperCollins, 2008), Marjorie is depressed because she’s just an ordinary cow, and can’t ride a bicycle or do handstands like the other cows. Then – after some clever chickens get to work with a paintbrush – Marjorie wakes to discover that she’s (apparently) laid a black-and-white Holstein-cow-spotted egg. The other cows refuse to believe in Marjorie’s egg and accuse the chickens, who refuse to tell. (“Prove it!”) Eventually Marjorie’s egg hatches a chick – whose first word out of the shell is “Moo!” With hilarious illustrations by Russell Ayto. Pair this one with Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg. For ages 2-6.
 images Sequels starting Marjorie and her adopted daughter Daisy include The Cow That Was the Best Moo-ther, The Best Cow in Show, and First Week at Cow School.
 imgres-3 In Karma Wilson’s rhyming The Cow Loves Cookies (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010), readers learn what farm animals eat – the horse loves hay, the geese munch corn – but the cow loves cookies! At the end, cow and farmer share a snack of cookies and milk. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-4 In Doreen Cronin’s wonderful Click, Clack, Moo (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000), Farmer Brown’s cows have acquired a typewriter and promptly begin to make their problems known: “Dear Farmer Brown, The barn is very cold at night. We’d like some electric blankets. Sincerely, The Cows.” Farmer Brown refuses and the cows go on a milk strike. All is finally resolved with the helpful intervention of Duck, who ends up with the typewriter – and promptly fires off a note announcing that the duck pond is boring and the ducks would like a diving board. Hilarious for ages 3 and up. There are several sequels featuring the Click, Clack, Moo characters.
 imgres-5 Click, Clack, Moo is a teaching unit to accompany the book, with six versions of the story, online games, and printable student resources, including activity books, story pages, and worksheets.
Put on a play! Readers’ Theater: Click, Clack, Moo is a script to accompany the book., adaptable for various numbers of actors. As it stands, it calls for three narrators, one Farmer Brown, choruses of Cows and Ducks, and some help from the audience.
 imgres-6 Cows and pirates! Moo – the star of Lisa Wheeler’s Sailor Moo: Cow at Sea (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2002) – has wanted to go to sea ever since she was a calf wearing a sailor hat. Eventually she gets a job on a fishing boat crewed by cats and led by Captain Silver Claw, who has a hook in place of one paw. She’s swept overboard in a storm, rescued by friendly manatees, and eventually ends up on the pirate ship of Red Angus and his gang of cattle buccaneers. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-7 In Phyllis Root’s Kiss the Cow (Candlewick, 2003), Luella the cow refuses to give any milk for Mama May’s hungry family of children (all in overalls) until Annalisa gives her a kiss on the nose. But Annalisa (“Never, never, never!”) is not about to kiss a cow. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-8 John Himmelman’s picture book Cows to the Rescue (Henry Holt and Company, 2011) is one of a series, beginning with Chickens to the Rescue (2006) and Pigs to the Rescue (2010). They’re all hilarious: problems arise and frantic hordes of animals arrive to (more or less) save the day. Here, it’s the day of the county fair and the Greenstalks’ car won’t start. Enter the cows! For ages 4-8. (And up.)
 imgres-9 In Lisa Wheeler’s rhyming Sixteen Cows (Harcourt, 2006), Cowboy Gene of the Biddle Ranch and Cowgirl Sue of the neighboring Waddle Ranch each have eight beloved cows, summoned each night by special come-home songs (to which the cows reply in chorus: “Moo!”). Then a wind blows down the fence between the two pastures and the sixteen cows become inextricably mixed up. The solution: a romance, a wedding, and a cow merger. For ages 4-8.
What If We Changed the Book? is a lesson plan with problem-posing extensions to accompany Sixteen Cows. Targeted at grades 3-5.
 imgres-10 Sandra Boynton’s Amazing Cows (Workman Publishing, 2010) is a riotous 96-page collection of cow stories, poems, parodies, jokes, and games – among them the tale of the shy research assistant whose alter ego is the bovine superhero, AMAZING COW. For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-11 Carmen Agra Deedy’s 14 Cows for America (Peachtree Publishers, 2009) is the picture-book version of a true story in which, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Kemeli Naiyomah travels from New York City to his home village in Kenya. There, after he tells the story of 9/11, his fellow Masai tribesman decide to give the people of America a gift of 14 sacred healing cows. A lovely and heartwarming story for ages 7-11.
 imgres-12 By Mark Leiknes, Cow & Boy (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008) – which began life as a webcomic – is right on for fans of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. Eight-year-old Billy and friend Cow live on the family farm, where – together – they explore life’s big questions. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-13 Fans of James Thurber’s classic daydreamer Walter Mitty must see Glen Wexler’s (digitally twisted) photo-illustrated The Secret Life of Cows (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2007). “When you see cows standing in a pasture blandly chewing some dreary bit of grass and staring into the middle distance, you’d never guess what lies beneath that placid exterior” – namely, a rich fantasy life featuring cyborg cows, superhero cows, secret agent cows, and rocket-propelled cows. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-14 Gary Larson’s Cows of Our Planet (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1992) isn’t, I have to admit, just about cows; rather it’s a collection of Larson’s wickedly funny Far Side cartoons. The centerfold, “Cows of Our Planet,” is Larson’s twisted take on breeds of cows. For everybody old enough to appreciate it.

REAL LIVE COWS

 imgres-15 Gail Gibbons’s brightly illustrated The Milk Makers (Aladdin, 1987) is a straightforward step-by-step account of the milk-making process, from cow to glass. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-16 Jules Older’s  humorous 32-page Cow (Charlesbridge Publishing, 1998) looks like an ad for Ben & Jerry’s – the art is by Ben & Jerry’s veteran Lyn Severance – but it’s filled with real facts about real cows, including breeds of cows, the names of the cow’s four stomachs, how calves are born, a bovine quiz, and (a yummy tangent) how to make an ice cream sundae. For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-17 In Jennifer Holland’s photo-illustrated Unlikely Friendships for Kids series, the title story in The Leopard & the Cow (Workman Publishing, 2012) is the tale of a young leopard cub, adopted by an Indian cow. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-18 Pat Wakefield’s A Moose for Jessica (Puffin, 1992) is the photo-illustrated story of a young bull moose – later known as Josh – who wandered into a cow pasture and became attached to a cow named Jessica. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-19 Cris Peterson’s photo-illustrated Clarabelle: Making Milk and So Much More (Boyds Mills Press, 2007) is set on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, where Clarabelle lives with 1200 other cows. The book describes all the basics of cow physiology, milk-making, and dairy farming – readers learn that Clarabelle produces 15 gallons of milk a day, which goes to make an array of other products, such as cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt. And not only that: Clarabelle and pals also generate electricity, fertilizer, and compost. For ages 8-11.
Clarabelle: Making Milk and So Much More is a lesson plan to accompany the book, with activity suggestions and printable resources.
 imgres-20 Learn to identify all 52 American breeds of cows! John Pukite’s A Field Guide to Cows (Penguin Books, 1998) has illustrations, statistics, cool cow trivia, and general information on each featured breed of cow. (We have a copy in the car.) Fun for all ages.
 images-1 Jack Byard’s Know Your Cows (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2012) is an illustrated and alphabetical guide to cow breeds, from Ayrshire to White Park. All ages.
 images-2 Marvin Harris’s Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches (Vintage, 1989) is a fascinating study in anthropology, explaining the economic and social underpinnings of traditional cultural beliefs. Find out, for example, why Hindus have sacred cows. For older teenagers and adults.
 imgres-21 From PBS’s Nature series. Holy Cow discusses the domestication of cows and ways in which cows and people interact. Topics covered in this 60-minute program include everything from the African Masai cattle culture and India’s sacred cows to modern dairy farming, “green” beef, and mad cow disease. See the website for a list of related websites and books.
The Perfect Cow? is a lesson plan on natural selection and domestication to accompany PBS’s Holy Cow. Targeted at grades 9-12.
 images-3 History of Cattle is a short, illustrated, hyperlinked article, targeted at kids, with an appended book list.

MILK AND CHEESE AND MORE

 imgres-23 Aliki’s charmingly illustrated Milk: From Cow to Carton (HarperCollins, 1992) covers the story of milk from grazing cows to dairy to the many different foods made from milk. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-24 Cris Peterson’s Extra Cheese, Please! (Boyds Mills Press, 1994) traces “Mozzarella’s Journey From Cow to Pizza,” with color photos and lots of fascinating facts. (A single cow produces 40,000 glasses of milk a year, enough to make cheese for 1800 pizzas.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-25 Try making your own mozzarella! Ricki’s Cheesemaking Kit includes materials (everything but milk), instructions, and recipes for making multiple batches of mozzarella and ricotta cheeses. Fun for all ages.
 imgres-26 Cheese.com is a database of all things cheese, covering nearly 600 cheeses by name, country, and type of milk, plus cheese facts and cheese recipes. (Find out why American cheese is not really cheese.)
 images-4 Milk and Dairy Products has reader-friendly information on milk consumption, various kinds of dairy products, the pasteurization process, milk nutrients, and milk chemistry.

FAMOUS COWS

 imgres-27 From Mental Floss, Seven Historical Cow Tales is a cool list, including the saga of Nellie Jay, the first cow ever to fly in an airplane, and the story of Grady, an Oklahoma cow who got stuck in a silo and became a media sensation in 1949.
imgres-28 Una Belle Townsend’s Grady’s in the Silo (Pelican Publishing, 2003) is a picture-book account of Grady’s silo adventure. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-29 Borden’s Elsie the Cow was at one time one of the most recognizable advertising symbols in the world.
 imgres-31 The (life-sized) Butter Cow has been a star of the Iowa State Fair since 1911.
 imgres-32 Check out the stories of these 10 Famous Cows, among them Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow (who may or may not have started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871); President Taft’s cow, Pauline Wayne, who supplied milk for the White House; and the Wall Street Bull.
 images-5 Did the Cow Do It? explores the evidence for the cause of the Great Chicago Fire.
 imgres-34 From Education World, The Great Chicago Fire: Did Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow Really Cause It? is a lesson plan on the fire and the cow for grades 6 and up. Included are discussion questions and a helpful resource list.
 imgres-33 Jim Murphy’s Newbery Honor Book, The Great Fire (Scholastic, 2006), is the story of the 1871 Chicago fire, including eyewitness accounts, and illustrated with photographs and period prints. (He says it wasn’t the fault of the cow.) For ages 9 and up.

THE SCIENCE OF COWS

 imgres-35 Cows or Cattle? All cows are cattle, but not all cattle are cows. This elementary-level lesson plan (with printable worksheet) explains it all.
 imgres-36 Do Cows Pollute as Much as Cars? Agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases – a lot of it in the form of methane, belched, burped, or farted by cows.
 images-6 Cows and Methane Gas is a nicely designed page on cows and the environment for upper-elementary students. Included is a list of Teacher Resources including an animation of cow digestion, quizzes and coloring pages, and activities.
 imgres-37 From the San Francisco Exploratorium, Cow’s Eye Dissection has information about eyes, an online demonstration, and illustrated step-by-step instructions for performing a cow’s eye dissection.
 imgres-38 A cow’s eye dissection kit (preserved cow’s eye, instruction guide, dissecting tools, and disposable dissecting tray) is available from Home Science Tools ($6.95). The website also has a virtual dissection and printable eye diagrams to label.
 images-7 Is Cow-Tipping Possible? Probably not. Find out why.
 imgres-39 Whales are believed to have evolved from a group of land animals whose closest living relative is the cow. Turn a Cow into a Whale is a lesson plan on this topic with printable worksheets and puzzles. Targeted at third-graders.
 imgres-40 I Didn’t Know That: Milking a Cow is a short video on the science of milk-making and milking (both traditional, by hand into a bucket, and state-of-the art, fully automated).
 imgres-41 Though the cow may just be the most important domesticated animal in human history, recent research indicates that cows may have been almost impossible to domesticate. Find out why.
 images-8 From the WhyFiles, learn all about mad cow disease.
 imgres-42 What do cows have to do with vaccination? Learn about Edward Jenner, cowpox, and smallpox here.

THE COW JUMPED OVER THE MOON

 imgres-43 Linda Alchin’s The Secret History of Nursery Rhymes (Neilson, 2013) discusses the historical backgrounds of many classical nursery rhymes, among them “Hey Diddle Diddle,” featuring cat, fiddle, and moon-jumping cow.
 imgres-44 BellaOnline’s Hey Diddle Diddle is a short history of the poem. It’s really about a love triangle and the Cow just might have been Queen Elizabeth I.
 imgres-45 P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006) includes the story of “The Dancing Cow” who has a star stuck on one horn from her famous jump over the moon.
 imgres-46 A space probe named Cow? (There was one. Well, almost.) Read all about the moon-circling space probe designed in 1957 by Krafft Ehricke and George Gamow in The Cow Jumped Over the Moon.

ART AND COWS

 imgres-47 In David Milgrim’s rhyming Cows Can’t Fly (Viking Juvenile, 1998), an imaginative little boy draws a picture of orange cows in a blue sky – and suddenly cows take to the air.  The problem: none of the flying-cow-resistant adults will look up. (“Ms. Crumb said cows/were far too fat/that facts were facts/and that was that.”) For ages 3-8.
 imgres-48 Want a flying cow of your own? From Playmaker Toys, this Flying Cow, launched via elastic slingshot, makes a mooing sound as it shoots through the air. $4.75.
 imgres-49 Nina Laden’s witty When Pigasso Met Mootisse (Chronicle Books, 1998) pictures artist Pablo Picasso as a beret-wearing pig and Henri Matisse as a bright-red bull. The artistic pair move into neighboring country houses, which they transform into works of art – but gradually their friendship falls apart as they criticize each other’s styles. (“You paint like a two-year-old!” “You paint like a wild beast!”) Eventually, however, they solve their differences by painting a pair of masterpieces on either side of their dividing fence. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-50 Doris Kutschbach’s The Blue Rider: The Yellow Cow Sees the World in Blue (Prestel, 1997), one of the Adventures in Art series, is the beautifully designed story of a group of innovative painters collectively known as the Blue Riders – among them Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee – who turned the art world upside-down with their creative uses of form and color. Illustrated with brilliantly colored art reproductions and photos of the artists at work. Check out the yellow cow. For ages 8-12.
imgres-61 Check out Andy Warhol’s Cows and try your hand at the Andy Warhol Cow Wallpaper Game.
 imgres-51 From Artists Helping Children, Cow Crafts for Kids has a long list of cow projects with instructions. Make stand-up paper cows, cow puppets, cow masks, an origami cow, and many more.
 imgres-52 From DLTK, Paper Plate Cow Craft has instructions and a template for making a cool cow mask on a stick.
 imgres-53 At Handprint and Footprint Art, find out how to make a handprint cow. (Also a handprint duck.)
 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA From Busy Bee, Cow Crafts for Kids has a nice assortment of projects, among them a clothespin calf, a talking cow card, and a cut-and-paste picture of a lush green field filled with thumbprint cows.
 imgres-54 We all know about sock monkeys – so why not a sock cow? Learn to make an adorable one at Sock Cow Tutorial.
 imgres-55 CowParade is a public art exhibit (possibly the world’s largest) in which fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by artists and displayed in public places.
Street Cows is a lesson plan in which kids read about and compare real and imaginary cows, learn about Cow Parade displays, and design art cows of their own.
 cowparade From Kinderart, Cow Parade is an art lesson plan for ages 11 and up in which kids decorate cardboard cow cut-outs in the styles of famous artists.
 imgres-56 Deep Space Sparkle’s Drawing Animals: Art Lesson Plans includes a great project in which kids make pictures of “Dancing Cows.”

COW POEMS

 imgres-57 The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2012), compiled by J. Patrick Lewis, is a collection of 200 animal-themed poems paired with stunning full-page color photographs. Among the poems: “The Cow” by Robert Louis Stevenson. A gorgeous book for ages 4 and up.
 imgres-58 Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “The Cow” can also be found in A Child’s Garden of Verses (Simon & Schuster, 1999) or online here.
 imgres-59 Gelett Burgess is best known for the immortal four-line poem “I Never Saw a Purple Cow.” This website has a great biography of Burgess (including an account of the fatal Cogswell Fountain Incident), the text of “Purple Cow,” and a list of Burgess’s publications.
For more on Burgess’s Purple Cow, a lot of purple cow parodies, and a poetry challenge, see How Now, Purple Cow?
 imgres-60 Susan Hawthorne’s Cow (Spinifex Press, 2011) is a fascinating poetry collection in which Queenie, leader of the herd, guides readers through mythology, philosophy, history, and language. For older teenagers and adults.
For many more poetry resources, see POETRY I and POETRY II.

COWS AND MATH

 images-9 In Woody Jackson’s Counting Cows (Harcourt, 1995), illustrated with gorgeous black-and-white cows and electric-colored watercolor landscapes, readers count backwards from ten cows to zero – and then wind up with a barn dance. For ages 3-6.
 images-10 From Cool Math Games, Find the Cow and Mooo! are collections of clever and varied interactive puzzles, all involving problem-solving and cows.
 imgres-63 From Illuminations, Grouping and Grazing is an exercise in adding, subtracting, tallying, and counting by 5s and 10s as an alien spaceship moves cows into corrals.
 imgres-64 For math students who like a challenge, Newton’s Cows is a deceptively simple-sounding problem (originally attributed to Sir Isaac Newton) about the amount grass eaten by cows. There’s an accompanying step-by-step explanation of the solution.
 imgres-65 Ian Stewart’s Cows in a Maze and Other Mathematical Explorations (Oxford University Press, 2010) is a chatty collection of creative mathematical puzzles and recreations. Readers learn about time travel, sphericons, cat’s cradle, probability in the courtroom, and cows, lost in a maze. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-66 In this Cats, Cows, and Pigs puzzle, a farmer has nine animal pens arranged in three rows of three. Each pen must contain a cat, a pig, or a cow – but no row or column can contain two of the same animal. It’s a sort of Sudoku puzzle for kids, with cows.
 imgres-67 From Ivars Peterson’s Math Trek, Cattle of the Sun is a discussion of Archimedes’s famous and fiendish.cattle problem, originally written in the form of a poem.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE BULLS?

 imgres-68 By Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand (Viking Juvenile, 2011) is the classic tale of the peaceful bull who wanted only to sit under a cork tree, smelling the flowers. Then he’s stung by a bee just as recruiters arrive from Madrid to choose the biggest, fiercest bull for the bullfights. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-69 Ferdinand’s story is also available in Latin. Check out Ferdinandus Taurus (David R. Godine, 2000).
 images-11 Aaron Zenz’s picture book Hug a Bull: An Ode to Animal Dads (Walker Children’s Books, 2013) introduces kids to the names of 27 different animal dads. (For 27 animal moms, see the companion book I Love Ewe.) For ages 3-6.
 imgres-70 In Sandra Neil Wallace’s Little Joe (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010), nine-year-old Eli is given a calf of his own to raise. (But don’t bother naming him, Eli’s father warns, because he’s just going to be eaten.) Even so, Eli names him Little Joe – and, after Joe wins the blue ribbon as best bull at the county cattle show, Eli’s grandfather buys him to save him from the butcher. It’s a great story of old-fashioned farm life, the difficulties of family relationships, and the struggles that come with growing up. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-71 In Maia Wojciechowska’s Newbery-winning Shadow of a Bull (Aladdin, 2007), eleven-year-old Manolo’s father, a world-famous bullfighter, died when he was three. Everyone has always expected Manolo to follow in his father’s footsteps – but Manolo wants to pursue his own path. A wonderful story of courage and friendship. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-72 In Suzanne Morgan Williams’s Bull Rider (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010), 14-year-old Cam O’Mara isn’t much interested in the family sport of bull-riding – he’s a skateboarder – until his older brother Ben comes home from Iraq with a brain injury. If Cam can only ride the champion bull Ugly for just eight seconds, the prize money will make all the difference in the world to Ben. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-73 Mary Renault’s The King Must Die (Vintage, 1988) is an historical retelling of the story of Theseus. Here the young Theseus discovers the identity of his father and joins the fourteen young men and women sent as tribute to King Minos of Crete, where all are trained to become bull-dancers – vaulting over the horns of bulls. The story continues in The Bull from the Sea (Vintage, 2001). Terrific reads for older teenagers and adults, these are compellingly told using a wealth of research into the history, archaeology, and culture of the time.

 

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Cooking

 

It turns out that everything – well, almost everything – can be learned through cooking. Science, history, math, geography, art, and literature are all connected to cooking – to say nothing of the benefits of cooking itself, which involves making something yummy and nutritious to eat.

See  below for cross-curricular connections, projects and experiments, storybooks and poems, and many not-just-your-ordinary  recipes.

Cooking and Literature

 images Eat the alphabet! Many distributors offer letter and number cookie-cutter sets – such as this one, a fifty-piece collection of colorful plastic cutters including all the letters of the alphabet (upper-case) and numbers 0-9. $8.99 from Amazon.
 images-3 Cheryl Apgar’s Book Cooks (Creative Teaching Press, 2002) has a book-related recipe for each letter of the alphabet from A (Apple Smiles) to Z (Zebra Pudding), plus poems, songs, and extension activities. Featured books include The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Tiny Seed, Green Eggs and Ham, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Stone Soup. (No heat source required for any of the recipes, which makes things easy for groups of little kids.) For ages 3-7.
 imgres-1 By Georgeanne Brennan, the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook (Random House, 2006) is a terrific collection of Dr. Seussian recipes, paired with catchy passages from the books. Readers learn to make Roast Beast, Cat in the Hat Pudding, and Pink Yink Ink Drink. (See below for more on Green Eggs and Ham.) For ages 7-10.
 imgres-2 Brian Jacques’s The Redwall Cookbook (Philomel, 2005) is a charmingly illustrated collection of recipes from the Redwall series, categorized by season of the year. Learn to make the Abbot’s Special Abbey Trifle, Great Hall Gooseberry Fool, Mole’s Favourite Deeper’n Ever Turnip ‘n’ Tater ‘n’ Beetroot Pie – and, of course, October Ale. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-3 Jane Yolen’s Fairy Tale Feasts (Interlink Books, 2009) is an illustrated collection of 20 fairy tales with accompanying recipes. “Cinderella,” for example, is paired with a recipe for pumpkin tarts, “Little Red Riding Hood” features recipes for picnic food (pack a basket), and “Snow White” comes with instructions for baked apples. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-4 In P.L. Travers’s, Mary Poppins in the Kitchen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), the Banks family cook, Mrs. Brill, has been called away – leaving Mary Poppins and the children in charge of the cooking. The frame story features many favorite Poppins characters such as Admiral Boom and the Bird Woman; recipes include Gingerbread Stars, Queen of Puddings, Jam Tarts, and Shepherd’s Pie. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-6 Dinah Bucholz’s The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2012) – a midnight-blue book with gold corners – is a collection of recipes and menus based on C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books. Make plum cake, ginger beer, and Turkish delight. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-7 Dinah Bucholz’s Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook (Adams Media, 2010) – purple with gold corners – is a collection of 150 recipes based on the Potter books, among them Hagrid’s Rock Cakes, Petunia’s Pudding, Treacle Tart, and Molly’s Meat Pies. Included with each recipe is a snippet of British food history. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-5 By Roald Dahl and Felicity Dahl, with wonderful illustrations by the incomparable Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes (Puffin, 1997) is a collection of (actually yummy) recipes from Dahl’s books, among them Snozzcumbers,  Frobscottle, Hot Frogs, Lickable Wallpaper, Eatable Marshmallow Pillows, Candy-Coated Pencils for Sucking in Class, and Stickjaw for Talkative Parents. A hoot for all ages.
 images-1 By Emily Ansara Baines, The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook (Adams Media, 2011) is a collection of 150 recipes based on Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy – books which, frankly, I would not have expected to generate much in the way of recipes. Among those that it did: Mrs. Everdeen’s Breakfast of Mush, Katniss’s Lamb Stew with Dried Plums, Apple-Smoked Groosling, and Annie and Finnick’s Wedding Cake. For ages 13 and up.
 images-2 In Anna Shapiro’s A Feast of Words: For Lovers of Food and Fiction (W.W. Norton; 1996), classic works of literature are paired with creative recipes. Featured books include Anna Karenina, Moby Dick, Jane Eyre, Ethan Frome, Emma, and David Copperfield. Literary discussion and kitchen projects for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-8 By Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Jensen, The Book Lover’s Cookbook (Ballantine Books, 2005) is a collection of 170 recipes for foods featured in classic books (both for children and adults), paired with literary quotations. If your kids have clamored to try the White Witch’s Turkish Delight or wondered about the Cratchit family’s carrot pudding, this is the book for you. For all ages.
 imgres-9 By Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sarian Lehrer, A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook (Bantam, 2012) provides photo-illustrated recipes (categorized by region), plus basic information on stocking a medieval-style kitchen. Included is a list of modern substitutes for things you can’t possibly get, such as auroch. For older teenagers and adults.

Cooking and History

 imgres-10 Cooking, castle-style. In Aliki’s marvelously illustrated picture book A Medieval Feast (HarperCollins, 1986), the king is coming to visit Camdenton Manor and everyone is busy preparing for a magnificent (and expensive) feast. Text and pictures, crammed with detail, describe hunting and fishing, baking and brewing, and all the contributions to the feast from vineyards, herb gardens, kitchen gardens, barns, and beehives. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-11 Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners by Lucille Recht Penner (Aladdin, 1997) is an absorbing history of Pilgrim foods, cooking, and table manners, with ten simple recipes for a complete Pilgrim meal. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-12 Mark Kurlansky’s The Story of Salt (Putnam Juvenile Books, 2006) is a delightfully illustrated history covering all aspects of salt. Trust me; it’s fascinating. For ages 8-12. (For teenagers and adults, see Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History (Penguin Books, 2003).)
 imgres-13 Barbara Walker’s The Little House Cookbook (HarperCollins, 1989) is a collection of “Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories.” The book contains historical information about the life and food of the pioneers, quotes from the Little House books, and recipes for such Ingalls family favorites as hasty pudding, pancake men, sourdough bread, pumpkin pie, crab-apple jelly, and cucumber pickles. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-14 Cooking Up U.S. History: Recipes and Research to Share With Children by Suzanne I. Barchers and Patricia C. Marden (Libraries Unlimited, 1999) includes recipes for such traditional American foods as porridge, Indian pudding, and sourdough bread, and for such homemade necessities as candles, soap, and ink. Recipes are categorized by historical period, from pre-Columbian days to the Civil War. Each recipe is accompanied by background information, discussion questions, suggested research projects, and supplementary reading lists. For ages 6-12.
 imgres-15 Cooking Up World History by Suzanne I. Barchers and Patricia C. Marden (Libraries Unlimited, 1994) is a collection of multicultural recipes from 22 different countries or regions, with accompanying research questions and annotated book lists. Readers make African banana fritters, British Yorkshire pudding, French mousse au chocolat, Indian chapattis, and Scottish scones. For ages 6-12.
 imgres-16 By Jean Fritz, George Washington’s Breakfast (Puffin, 1998) features young George Washington Allen, who knows a great deal about George Washington – including the names of his horses and dogs, and his shoe size – but doesn’t know what the great man ate for breakfast. After a lot of persistence and research he finds out – and convinces his grandma to cook it. For ages 7-10.
 images-4 Have Breakfast with George Washington includes a quote about Washington’s breakfast from his step-granddaughter, Nelly Custis Lewis, and a recipe for Washington’s favorite hoecakes.
 imgres-17 James Solheim’s It’s Disgusting – and We Ate It! (Aladdin, 1998), subtitled “True Food Facts from Around the World and Throughout History,” is an account of unusual dishes and surprising foods that people worldwide eat or have eaten in the past – among them fried grasshoppers, robins, earthworm soup, and camel hump stew. Included are zany illustrations, fascinating facts, and clever poems. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-18 By Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond, The U.S. History Cookbook (John Wiley & Sons, 2003) is a collection of “Delicious Recipes and Exciting Events from the Past” arranged in chronological order from “The First Thanksgiving” through “Colonial Fare,” “A Pioneer Breakfast,” “Plantation Life,” “A Victorian Tea,” “Making Do During the Great Depression,” “World War II Rations,” and “Fabulous Fifties Foods” (and more). Make your own cornmeal mush, beef jerky, depression cake, and TV dinners. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-19 Published by Reaktion Books, the Edible Series is a collection of catchy short (128-page) global histories of a wide (wide) range of foods. Titles include Pizza (Carol Helstosky), Cheese (Andrew Dalby), Ice Cream (Laura B. Weiss), Cake (Nicola Humble), Bread (William Rubel), Soup (Janet Clarkson), Hot Dog (Bruce Kraig), Pancake (Ken Albala), Sandwich (Bee Wilson), and many more. For the complete list, see The Edible Series website. Fun for foodies ages 13 and up.
 imgres-20 William Sitwell’s illustrated A History of Food in 100 Recipes (Little, Brown and Company, 2013) is a witty chronological history of food, beginning with a bread recipe gleaned from an ancient Egyptian tomb – and then on to roast goat, salted ham, pasta, party planning (circa 1420), hippocras jelly, “peas soope,” the invention of the sandwich, Rice Krispies treats, and the rise of food TV. A great read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-21 Cooking, argues anthropologist Richard Wrangham, made human beings what they are today. In Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (Basic Books, 2010), Wrangham argues that once our ancestors learned to control fire some 1.8 million years ago, they also learned to cook – an inspired leap that both provided us with more and better food and eventually led to smaller jaws, bigger brains, complex social structures, and civilization. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-22 Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork (“A History of How We Cook and Eat”) (Basic Books, 2012) is an addictive history of cooking and eating, packed with fascinating – and surprising – information. Various chapters cover pots and pans, the history of knives, cooking with fire (always risky), eating utensils (fingers, tongs, chopsticks, and spoons, as well as the title fork), and more. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-23 The Food Timeline is an annotated timeline of food and cooking from prehistory (17,000 BCE) to the present, packed with quotes from historians, excerpts from period cookbooks, general information, historical recipes, and more. A terrific and wide-ranging resource.

Cooking and Geography

 imgres-24 In Marjorie Priceman’s How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World (Dragonfly Books, 1996), a little girl takes an imaginary trip around the world to find out where all the ingredients for an apple pie come from: wheat from Italy, eggs from France, cinnamon from Sri Lanka, sugar from Jamaica, and apples from Vermont. The book includes a recipe for your very own international apple pie. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-25 Also by Priceman in the same format is How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008).
 imgres-26 In Norah Dooley’s picture book Everybody Cooks Rice (Carolrhoda Books, 1992), a little girl tours her neighborhood at dinnertime, discovering all the many ways in which persons of different ethnic backgrounds cook rice – among them Haitians, Indians, Puerto Ricans, and Chinese. For ages 6-8.
 imgres-27 Also see Dooley’s Everybody Bakes Bread (1995), Everybody Serves Soup (2004), and Everybody Brings Noodles (2005).
 imgres-28 Pamela Marx’s Travel-The-World Cookbook (Good Year Books, 1996) has sixty simple recipes from countries and regions around the globe, along with food facts, cultural information, and suggestions for related research projects and craft activities. (Try peanut soup, stuffed grape leaves, tostadas, and toad-in-a-hole.) Also included are lists of international harvest festival traditions and folk tales. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-29 Arlette N. Braman’s illustrated Kids Around the World Cook (Jossey-Bass, 2000) is a collection of recipes for drinks, breads, soups and starters, main dishes, and desserts from a wide range of different countries. For example, kids can make Indian sweet lassi, Israeli challah, Polish strawberry soup, Chinese stir-fried rice, and Norwegian nutmeg cookies. Included are historical and cultural information, notes on multicultural word origins, and a lot of catchy facts. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-30 The Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook by Deanna F. Cook (Williamson books, 2008) includes 50 different recipes grouped by world region (Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas, and the South Pacific). Included along with the recipes are catchy cultural facts, games, activities, suggestions for themed parties, and cute little illustrations. Young cooks whip up such delectables as peanut butter soup (Ghana), ox-eye eggs (Indonesia), apple pancakes (Germany), and couscous (Tunisia). For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-31 By Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond, The United States Cookbook (John Wiley & Sons, 2000) is a 128-page compendium of “Fabulous Foods and Fascinating Facts from All 50 States.” States are grouped by region: for each, there’s a map, basic background information, a short summary of state foods, and a traditional recipe. (From Massachusetts, Boston Baked Beans; from New York, Waldorf Salad; from Pennsylvania, Soft Pretzels.) Boxes of “Fun Food Facts” provide a lot of unusual information, among them the distance record for spitting watermelon seeds. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-32 By Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond, The Coming to America Cookbook (John Wiley & Sons, 2005) is a collection of kid-friendly recipes from multicultural immigrants. The book covers eighteen different countries – among them Mexico, China, Morocco, and Nigeria – with information about the country and its customs and representative recipes. For ages 11 and up.
 imgres-33 Matthew Locricchio’s International Cookbook for Kids (Two Lions, 2012), illustrated with mouthwatering color photographs, is a collection of recipes from Italy, France, China, and Mexico (including an entire menu for a taco party). Recipes are clearly presented, with attractive step-by-step instructions. Intended for serious young cooks who can cope with multiple ingredients and techniques. For ages 11 and up.

Cooking and Science

 imgres-34 By Liz Plaster and Rick Krustchinsky, Incredible Edible Science (Redleaf Press, 2010) is a collection of 160 food-based science activities for preschoolers and early elementary students, categorized under observation (via the five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound), classification, communication, measurement, inference, prediction, and language and literacy. (Under this last, for example, kids make alphabet pretzels and Three Bears’ Porridge, and grow Jack’s beanstalk.)
 imgres-35 Vicki Cobb’s Science Experiments You Can Eat (HarperCollins, 1984) pairs interesting recipes with equally interesting scientific discussions: for example, kids make rock candy, grape jelly, and popcorn while learning about crystallization, polymerization, and steam pressure. Cobb is brilliant at making science accessible for a wide range of ages. (Get all her books!) Highly recommended.
 imgres-36 Loralee Leavitt’s colorfully illustrated Candy Experiments (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013) has a wealth of tempting and creative things to do with candy other than eat it. Discover candy’s secret ingredients, investigate candy color, experiment with density (find out how to sink a marshmallow), and try squashing it, stretching it, melting it, or blowing it up, all in the name of science. Included are complete instructions and explanations. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-37 The Science Chef by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond (Jossey-Bass, 1994) is a collection of “100 Fun Food Experiments and Recipes for Kids,” among them recipes and brief scientific information on salad dressing, pasta sauce, cheese, butter, and pudding. Readers learn why toasted bread turns brown and discover the chemistry of baking powder. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-38 The Science Chef Travels Around the World by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond (John Wiley & Sons, 1996) covers fourteen different countries, among them Brazil, Israel, China, India, Morocco, Canada, and Ghana. For each is listed an interesting science experiment based on a representative ethnic food – for example, kids learn about viscosity with honey (Egypt) and osmosis with pickled cucumbers (France) – along with recipes and menus. For ages 9-13.
 imgres-39 Simon Quellen Field’s Culinary Reactions (Chicago Review Press, 2011) is neither a chemistry book nor a cookbook, but rather a friendly and clearly written melding of the two, explaining just what goes on – chemically – in the process of making whipped cream, bread, meringue, hollandaise sauce, cheese, roast turkey, lemonade, and ice cream. (There’s also a nice account of how to extract DNA from your Halloween pumpkin.) Various chapters cover foams, emulsions, colloids and gels, oils and fats, solutions, crystallization, protein chemistry, acids and bases, oxidation and reduction, and more. For ages 14 and up – best for those with a little basic chemistry under their belts.
 images-5 From the acclaimed author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan’s Cooked (Penguin Press, 2013) covers Pollan’s own experiences in learning how to cook, and explores the science of cooking – categorized by classical element : fire, water, air, and earth. Under “Fire,” Pollan learns to barbecue; in “Water,” he tackles soups and stews; “Air” is a study of bread; and “Earth” is all about fermentation and pickling. (Beer, cheese, and vinegar.) An interesting and informative read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-40 Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Scribner, 2004) is a terrific resource. The book, all 600+ pages of it, is jam-packed with historical and scientific information: for example, readers discover the history of graham crackers and chewing gum; learn about the biochemistry of meringue, mayonnaise, blue cheese, and ripening bananas; and find out how Brazil nuts are harvested and how bees make honey. Scientifically detailed and thorough, but comfortably readable. For teenagers and adults.
For more interesting information on food science, see McGee’s excellent Curious Cook website.
 imgres-41 EdX’s Science & Cooking is a challenging and creative online course collaboratively taught by famous chefs and Harvard research scientists, complete with video lectures and virtual labs. The class can be audited or taken to obtain a Certificate of Mastery, which involves homework and exams. Either way it’s absolutely free.
 imgres-42 From the San Francisco Exploratorium, Science of Cooking has cool information, creative projects and activities, virtual labs, webcasts, and book lists on many aspects of cooking. Featured sections cover eggs, pickles, candy, bread, seasoning, and meat. A great resource.
 FoodSci_img001 Cooking & Food Science Fair Project Ideas has many suggestions for science-minded cooks, categorized by difficulty level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced). For example, kids analyze the starch content of potatoes and the gluten content of wheat, determine the caloric content of foods, and explore the chemistry of ice-cream-making.
 images-6 From Penn State, Food Science has experiments, activities, lesson plans, and informative resources for kid in grades K-12. (Find out how to determine the speed of light with marshmallows.)
 imgres-43 From the American Chemical Society, Science for Kids: Food has a list of interesting projects and experiments involving fats, proteins, starch, pH indicators, and more.

Cooking and Math

 imgres-44 In Stuart J. Murphy’s A Fair Bear Share (HarperCollins, 1997), four little bear cubs gather, count, and sort blueberries, nuts, and seeds (in sets of ten) for their mother’s special Blue Ribbon Blueberry Pie. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-45 Check out this recipe for Blueberry Pie So Easy Your Kids Can Make It Themselves.
 imgres-46 In Spaghetti and Meatballs for All (Scholastic, 1997) by Marilyn Burns, the Comforts have invited many guests for dinner – which turns into a clever mathematical exercise in rearranging tables and chairs and apportioning food. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-47 From the BBC’s Good Food, Cooking with Kids: Spaghetti & Meatballs has a shared parent-and-kids recipe, with helpful instructions for each.
 imgres-48 In Amy Axelrod’s Pigs in the Pantry (Aladdin, 1999) – subtitled “Fun with Math and Cooking” – Mrs. Pig has a cold so her husband and children decide to make her a batch of spicy Firehouse Chili (recipe included). Measuring errors lead to disaster. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-49 Ann McCallum’s Eat Your Math Homework (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2011) pairs food and math concepts (with a couple of wacky bunnies). Kids learn about probability with trail mix and pi with pizza, bake batches of tessellating two-color brownies and tangram cookies, and make Fibonacci snack sticks. Informative and fun for ages 7-12.
 imgres-50 The Math Chef: Over 60 Math Activities and Recipes for Kids by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond (John Wiley & Sons, 1997) is divided into four main sections: “Measuring,” “Arithmetic,” “Fractions and Percents,” and “Geometry.” Kids combine mathematical exercises with cooking, calculating the number of grams in a pound of potatoes, figuring out how to triple a sandwich recipe, and determining the area of a brownie and the circumference of an apple pie. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-51 In the Math in the Real World series, Sheri Arroyo’s 32-page How Chefs Use Math (Chelsea Clubhouse, 2009) is an illustrated introduction to the mathematics of running a restaurant. How much food to buy? What to charge? How many customers? For ages 8-12.

Cooking and Poetry

 imgres-52 Susan M. Freese’s Carrots to Cupcakes (Super Sandcastle, 2008) introduces kids to basic poetry concepts through funny cartoon-illustrated poems about cooking and food. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-53 Larry Fagin, in The List Poem (Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 2000), a book of poetry exercises and projects for aspiring writers, suggests that students try writing “recipe poems” based on recipe-style lists of ingredients. Samples (by students) include “Recipe for Martin Luther King, Jr.” (“7 gallons of love/10 cups of courage/10 cups of caring…”) and a recipe for “King Midas Touch” (“1 pound egg shells/2 pounds of mosquitoes (bones removed)/1 purple duck with polka dots…”). For all ages.
 imgres-54 Kevin Young’s The Hungry Ear (Bloomsbury USA, 2012) is a collection of poems on food by many different poets, among them Mary Oliver, Seamus Heaney, Elizabeth Bishop, Langston Hughes, Billy Collins, W.B. Yeats, Pablo Neruda, and Sylvia Plath. For teenagers and adults.
 images-7 Peter Washington’s Eat, Drink, and Be Merry (Everyman’s Library, 2003) is an anthology of poems on food and drink, among them “Breakfast” by William Carlos Williams, “Blueberries” by Robert Frost, “Recipe for a Salad” by Sydney Smith, and “Gooseberry Fool” by Amy Clampitt. For teenagers and adults.

Cooking and Art

 imgres-55 By Maryann F. Kohl and Jean Potter, Cooking Art: Easy Edible Art for Young Children (Gryphon House, 1997) is a fat collection of artistic cooking projects for kids aged 4-10. Projects are grouped under such subheadings as “Shapes and Forms,” “Colors and Design,” “Flowers and Trees,” and “Animals and Creatures.” There’s also a month-by-month list of special seasonal projects for around the year. Sample projects: kids make potato ghosts, number pretzels, cucumber airplanes, a flowerpot salad, and “Mush and Jelly Paint” for making pictures on bowls of breakfast oatmeal.  For ages 3 and up.
 imgres-56 From Family Corner, 10 Edible Play Dough Crafts has recipes for ten wholly edible play doughs, variously made from Kool-Aid, Jell-O, oatmeal, peanut butter, and chocolate.
 h2_1982.60.39 From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Food and Feasting is a large collection of paintings and artifacts related to food and cooking.
 images-8 15 Fascinating Food Artists and Sculptors is a gallery of works made from food: mosaics made from cookies and noodles, carved eggs, sculptures made from butter or vegetables, and some truly phenomenal cakes.
 images-9 Hong Yi Plays With Her Food is a collection of landscapes, animals, pictures, and portraits made with food on a background of white plates by a Malaysian artist.

Even More Recipes

 imgres-57 Marjorie Winslow’s Mud Pies and Other Recipes (New York Review Children’s Collection, 2010) is a charming collection of (wholly inedible) recipes for make-believe, among them Pine Needle Upside-Down Cake, Boiled Buttons, and Rainspout Tea. For all ages.
 imgres-58 Cordon Bleu chef (and mom) Annabel Karmel’s Mom and Me Cookbook (Dorling Kindersley, 2008), illustrated with great color photographs, is a collection of beautifully presented recipes for cooks ages 4-7. Try your hands at potato mice, avocado frog dip, animal cookies, and many more.
 imgres-59 Also by Karmel, see The Toddler Cookbook (Dorling Kindersley, 2008) for ages 2-5, which features such dishes as lettuce boats, little pita pizzas, and peanut butter bears.
 imgres-60 Mollie Katzen’s Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes (Tricycle Press, 1994) is a wonderful illustrated vegetarian cookbook for preschoolers, in which each recipe appears twice – once in words and once in step-by-step pictures. Cooks ages 3-6 can – with a little help – make green spaghetti, blueberry pancakes, zucchini moons, and hide and seek muffins. And, of course, pretend soup.
 imgres-61 Also see the sequel, Salad People and More Real Recipes (2005) and, for older cooks ages 8-12, Honest Pretzels and 64 Other Amazing Recipes for Kids Who Like to Cook (2009).
For sample recipes, see Children’s Cookbooks at Mollie Katzen’s website.
 imgres-62 Linda White’s Cooking on a Stick (Gibbs Smith, 2000) is a collection of campfire recipes for kids, variously to be cooked on sticks, in pouches, or on grills or grates. Included are safety tips and instructions for building a campfire. Try Moose Kebobs, S’mores, Hop Toad Popcorn, and Squirrel Nibbles. For ages 6-11.
 imgres-63 Kate White’s Cooking in a Can (Gibbs Smith, 2006) has instructions and recipes not only for cooking in a can, but on a (homemade) tin-can grill, wrapped in leaves, with hot rocks, in a pit, in a (homemade) solar oven, and more. Fun for campers and backyard cooks ages 6 and up.
 imgres-64 Melissa Barlow’s Noodlemania (Quirk Books, 2013) is a collection of 50 wacky pasta recipes – categorized by shape (“Totally Tubular,” “Twisty & Twirly”) – plus assorted catchy facts. Make Robot Bites, Super Stuffed Slugs, and Green Stink Bugs. Fun for ages 6 and up.
 6a00e55246b63f8834017742e0950f970d-800wi The Artful Parent’s Cooking with Kids has many wonderful cooking projects, illustrated with photographs. Make teddy-bear bread, candy-cane lollipops, rainbow cupcakes, and more.
 imgres-65 Write your own cookbook? Peter Stillman’s Families Writing (Heinemann, 1998) is an inspirational source of ideas for cooperative family writing projects, among them creating a personal recipe book filled with traditional family favorites. A great project for all ages.
 imgres-66 The Let’s Cook! Class Curriculum is a detailed multi-lesson cooking unit at two levels (Beginner and Advanced). Each session covers basic cooking techniques and features a different food with recipe – for example, apples, bell peppers, dried beans, potatoes, and tomatoes. Generally aimed at ages 9-13.

Books About Cooks (and a Movie)

 imgres-67 In Maurice Sendak’s classic In the Night Kitchen (HarperCollins, 1996), Mickey falls into the surreal world of the night kitchen where three Alice-in-Wonderland-ish bakers are mixing the batter for the morning cake. They need milk – so Mickey makes an airplane out of bread dough and flies off to fetch some from a gigantic milk bottle. In the process of falling into the night kitchen, Mickey also falls out of his clothes, which has caused endless fuss among people who have never ever seen a child bare. For ages 2-7.
 imgres-68 In Carolyn Parkhurst’s picture book Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly (Feiwel & Friends, 2010), big brother Henry is hosting a pretend TV show (“Pirate Cooking”), in which the dish of the day is “raspberry-marshmallow-peanut butter waffles with barbecued banana bacon” – though he’s having a struggle dealing with input from red-headed two-year-old sister Ellie. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-69 In William Steig’s Pete’s a Pizza (HarperCollins, 1998), Pete is miserable – it’s raining and he can’t play ball – so his father decides to cheer him up by turning him into a pizza. Pete is kneaded and tossed, smeared with oil (water), decorated with toppings (checkers and paper scraps), and baked on the couch. When the time comes for the pizza to be sliced, Pete runs away, pursued by his father (“Pizzas are not supposed to laugh!”). Possibly the funniest pizza recipe ever. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-70 Bruce Eric Kaplan’s Monsters Eat Whiny Children (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010) is hilarious. Henry and Eve, going through a “TERRIBLE phase,” do nothing but whine, and have been warned by their father that monsters eat whiny children. The kids continue to whine and – lo and behold – a monster pops them in a sack and takes them off to his lair on the bad side of town. There problems arise, as the monsters bicker over just how to cook and serve whiny children – in salad? Burgers? Cake? Vindaloo? By the time the monsters finally agree on cucumber sandwiches (on fluffy white bread), the whiny kids – hopefully with a lesson learned – have escaped. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-71 Rosemary Mastnak’s Cooking with Grandma (Hardie Grant Egmont, 2012) is a mix of cooking, fun, and make-believe. When Anya visits her grandparents, she and grandma cook a new dish every day, and then serve it up with a dose of pretend play (“room service at the hotel!”). Chances are readers will be clamoring to make toast soldiers and scones. (Mastnak is Australian – readers glimpse kangaroos through Grandma’s kitchen window.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-72 In Dr. Seuss’s Scrambled Eggs Super (Random House, 1953, Peter T. Hooper produces the most spectacular dish of scrambled eggs ever, with dozens of zany eggs, 99 pans, 55 cans of beans, a pound of horseradish, and nine prunes. And more. For ages 4-8.
 images-10 Also see Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham (Random House, 1960) in which the relentless Sam-I-Am pulls out all stops to convince the stubborn narrator to try a scrumptious dish of green eggs and ham.
From Scholastic, Scrambled Eggs Super is a lesson plan to accompany Seuss’s book in which kids decorate plastic eggs and play a rhyming word game.
From Martha Stewart, Green Eggs and Ham is a particularly yummy-sounding version of Seuss’s recipe. (The green is pesto.)
At Seussville.com, Green Eggs and Ham lists three different recipes for Sam-I-Am’s famous dish.
 imgres-73 In Lynne Barasch’s picture-book biography Hiromi’s Hands (Lee & Low Books, 2007), young Hiromi, whose father is a sushi chef, wants to become one too – and she grows up to become one of the first female sushi chefs in America. (But it wasn’t easy.) For ages 5-8.
 imgres-74 Make Vegetable Maki Sushi with Kids! has step-by-step photo-illustrated instructions for making homestyle sushi.
 imgres-75 Deborah Hopkinson’s picture book Fannie in the Kitchen (Aladdin, 2004) – subtitled “The Whole Story from Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements” – is told from the point of view of young Marcia Shaw, who is not exactly pleased when Fannie Farmer comes to cook for her family’s Victorian household. Soon, though, she’s hooked on Fannie’s delicious meals and even has a hand in writing the famous Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-76 By Susanna Reich, Minette’s Feast (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012) is the story of Julia Child told through the eyes of her cat, Minette (“perhaps the luckiest cat in all Paris”). For ages 4-8.
 imgres-77 Jessie Hartland’s Bon Appetit! (Schwartz & Wade, 2012) is a delightful and hilariously illustrated biography of Julia Child, filled with anecdotes, food, and recipes (and a smattering of French). For ages 7-12.
 images-11 By Alice Waters, Fanny at Chez Panisse (William Morrow Cookbooks, 1997) is the charmingly illustrated story of Waters’s famous California restaurant, Chez Panisse, as told by her seven-year-old daughter, Fanny. The first chunk of the book introduces the restaurant and the people who work there; the rest is a collection of 46 scrumptious recipes, ostensibly Fanny’s. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-78 In Kathryn Littlewood’s Bliss (Katherine Tegen Books, 2013), the Bliss family, owners of a magical bakery in the town of Calamity Falls, have in their possession an ancient Cookery Booke, filled with arcane recipes for Singing Gingersnaps, Love Muffins, and Cookies of Truth. When the Bliss parents are called out of town, it’s up to 12-year-old Rose and her siblings to keep the book safe – particularly from the suspicious Lily, who arrives at their door claiming to be a distant cousin. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-79 In Rufus Kingfisher’s Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles, Madame Pamplemousse’s edibles are indeed incredible: among them are Minotaur Salami, Pterodactyl Bacon, Crocodile Kidneys in Blueberry Wine, and Giant Squid Tentacle in Jasmine-Scented Jelly. Young Madeleine – forced to work for her awful Uncle Lard at his restaurant, The Squealing Pig – discovers Madame Pamplemousse when the Squealing Pig runs out of pate, at which point evil Uncle Lard decides to steal Madame Pamplemousse’s secrets. A wonderful magical read for ages 9 and up. (And there are sequels.)
 imgres-80 In Sarah Weeks’s Pie (Scholastic, 2013), set in the 1950s, Alice’s Aunt Polly – the Pie Queen of Ipswitch – has died, leaving the recipe for her famous pie crust to her cat, and her cat (Lardo) to Alice. Great characters, a mystery, a story of friendship and family relationships, and fourteen recipes for pie. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-81 In Adam Glendon Sidwell’s Evertaster (Future House Publishing, 2012), eleven-year-old Guster Johnsonville, a mega-picky eater, is taken by his frustrated mother to New Orleans to find something he’ll consent to eat. There they meet a dying pastry cook who gives them an old metal eggbeater and the secret ancient recipe for the most delicious taste in the world. Soon Guster and family are on the run, pursued by a cult of murderous chefs. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-82 The parents of Primrose Squarp, the star of Polly Horvath’s Everything on a Waffle (Square Fish, 2008), have been lost at sea, and Primrose has been sent to live with her Uncle Jack (who at least is better than her former babysitter, Miss Perfidy, who smells of mothballs and dislikes children). Primrose spends her time on the docks, waiting for her parents to return, and hanging out with Miss Bowzer, proprietor of the restaurant The Girl on the Red Swing, where everything – absolutely everything – is served on a waffle. Miss Bowzer teaches her to cook – the book is filled with recipes for everything from caramel apples to pear soup and cherry pork chops – and Primrose’s observations on the people and life in her small Canadian town are priceless. Also there’s a happy (though somewhat unbelievable) ending. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-83 Twelve-year-old Foster McFee, main character of Joan Bauer’s Close to Famous (Puffin, 2012), has learning disabilities (she can’t read), a talent for baking (marvelous cupcakes), and a dream of hosting her own television cooking show.  When she and her mother settle in Culpepper, West Virginia – after fleeing her mother’s abusive boyfriend – both find new friends and new hope. A satisfying read for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-84 Lucy Knisley’s Relish: My Life in the Kitchen (First Second, 2013) is a cheerful autobiographical graphic novel of a child “raised by foodies,” with lots of great illustrated recipes. For food-loving teenagers and adults.
 images-12 In Pixar’s 2007 animated film Ratatouille, Remy, a young rat, dreams of becoming a great French chef. The major drawback: he’s a rat. Rated G.

For more resources for budding foodies see HAPPY CARROT DAY, CHOCOLATE, BEAUTIFUL SOUP, APPLES, FAMOUS POTATOES, and EAT YOUR VEGGIES (AND OTHER HEALTHY STUFF).

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Terrific Trains

 

Who doesn’t love a train? There are fans of Thomas the (talking) Tank Engine, admirers of the Hogwarts Express, model train lovers, and creative students of American history, who want to know what happened to the Golden Spike that completed the Transcontinental Railroad. (If you’ve got rosy visions of driving to Promontory Point and extracting it, forget it: it’s in the Smithsonian.)

See below for books and resources for all ages, including a great train robbery, adventurous orphans, a really cool model steam engine, and a railroad version of Moby Dick (with giant moles).

TRAINS FOR BEGINNERS

images-18 Steve Light’s Trains Go (Chronicle Books, 2012) is a masterpiece of onomatopoeia for toddlers, with great illustrations and lots of ZOOSHs, WHOOSHs, CLANGs, and TOOTs. For ages 2-5.
 images-1 Donald Crews’s Freight Train (Greenwillow, 2004) is a gorgeous and colorful introduction to the parts of a train: black steam engine, purple box car, green cattle car, orange tank car, red caboose. For ages 2-6.
 images-2 Dinosaurs! And trains! In John Steven Gurney’s Dinosaur Train (HarperCollins, 2002), a little boy whose favorite things are dinosaurs and trains draws a dinosaur-and-train picture before going to bed and heads off on an imaginative train adventure, packed with colorful dinosaurs, among them a T. rex engineer in overalls. For ages 3-5.
 images-3 In Tony Mitton’s adorable Terrific Trains (Kingfisher, 2000), pop-eyed animal characters head off on a rhyming train journey (“Starting from the station with a whistle and a hiss/steam trains huffing and puffing like this”).  For ages 3-6.
 images-4 In Philemon Sturges’s I Love Trains (HarperCollins, 2003), a little boy in a stripey engineer’s cap and overalls watches a train go by, while telling – in rhyme – all about it, from engine, hopper, boxcar, and flatcar to caboose. For ages 3-6.
 images-5 Thomas the Tank Engine (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2005) was first featured in the Railway Series books by Wilbert Awdry in the 1940s – and, like Winnie the Pooh, Thomas was based on a child’s (real) toy.  Now Thomas is the star of countless books, games, apps, and a TV series. For ages 3-7.
 images-6 Patricia Hubbell’s Trains (Two Lions, 2009) – subtitled “Steaming! Pulling! Huffing!” – is a rhyming introduction to all things train, with clever collage-style illustrations and a lot of creative typefaces. For ages 3-7.
 images-7 Watty Piper’s classic The Little Engine That Could (Platt & Munk, 1930) is now available in any number of editions, but all star the determined little pale-blue train who finally (“I think I can; I think I can…”) makes it over the mountain with a load of toys. It’s supposed to instill the virtues of courage and persistence in the very small; parents can quote bits of it comfortingly to frustrated five-year-olds, who have thrown a failed project on the floor and are stamping upon it.
 images-8 In Lois Lenski’s The Little Train (Random House, 2000), Engineer Small drives his train from Tinytown to Union Station in the big city, with lots of explanations for young train fans along the way. For ages 4-7.
 images-19 By Gail Gibbons, Trains (Holiday House, 1988) is a simple non-fiction introduction to trains with appealing bright-colored illustrations, variously covering all things train, including steam, diesel, and electric engines, boxcars, tank cars, passenger cars, refrigerator cars, and the ever-popular caboose. For ages 4-7.
 images-9 In Margaret and H.A. Rey’s Curious George Takes a Train (Houghton Mifflin, 2002), everybody’s favorite little monkey heads for the busy train station along with the Man in the Yellow Hat – and inevitably gets in a lot of trouble. For ages 4-8.
At Curious George’s website, George’s Busy Day:Train Station is an interactive train-based math game for early-elementary students.
 images-20 Diane Siebert’s Train Song (HarperCollins, 1993), illustrated with gorgeous glowing paintings by Michael  , is a rhythmic poem that captures the clickety-clack essence of train travel: “locomotives/cars in tow/going places/Buffalo/New York City/Boston, Mass./slowing ‘neath the underpass.” For ages 4-8.
 images-11 Virginia Lee Burton’s Choo Choo (Sandpiper, 1988), illustrated in dramatic black, white, and red, is the story of a rebellious little engine who runs away, having decided that she can go much faster without any troublesome passengers. She gets into all kinds of trouble before learning a useful lesson. For ages 4-8.
On YouTube, Choo Choo is a reading of the story by Peter Bradley, with illustrations from the book.
 images-12 John Burningham’s award-winning Hey! Get Off Our Train (Dragonfly Books, 1994) is an unlikely mix of train trip and endangered animals – but it works.  A little boy and his stuffed dog embark on a magical nighttime train trip, collecting animals along the way. Each is initially greeted with cries of “Hey! Get off our train!” until the animal explains its plight: someone is trying to cut off the elephant’s tusks; the polar bear is being hunted for fur; the tiger’s forest is being cut down. For ages 4-9.
 images-13 In Tony Crunk’s Railroad John and the Red Rock Run (Peachtree Publishing, 2006), Railroad John – who hasn’t been late in 40 years – is racing the Sagebrush Flyer to Red Rock for Lonesome Bob’s wedding to Wildcat Annie (who waits for no one). Inevitably, the train is held up by outlaws, a flood, and a cyclone, but still manages to make it on time. (Wildcat Annie, on the other hand, is late.) For ages 5-8.
 images-14 Photographer Walter Wick’s Can You See What I See? Toyland Express (Cartwheel Books, 2011) is a fascinating picture-puzzle book that begins in a toymaker’s workshop, where a wooden train is being assembled and painted; then moves to a toy shop window, where the finished train is displayed along with dozens of other toys; and next to a birthday party. In each wonderful image-crammed spread there is a list of 20 things for readers to find: “Can you see what I see? 2 bells, a birdhouse/a pencil, a pail/a ball of string/a long cat tail…” Fun for ages 5 and up.
 images-15 Chris Van Allsburg’s Christmas-themed The Polar Express (Houghton Mifflin, 2009), in which a wonderful train transports the narrator to the North Pole, is now a classic – with a final theme of unshakeable belief. For all ages.
The computer-animated movie version of The Polar Express (Warner Brothers, 2004), directed by Robert Zemeckis, is rated PG. The book is better.
 images-16 Folk musician Gordon M. Titcomb’s The Last Train (Roaring Brooks Press, 2010), with stunning illustrations by Wendell Minor, is an evocative celebration of the great age of the railroads, as a boy recalls the experiences of his father and grandfather, both railroad men. (“My Granddad was a railroad man, he drove the trains around/My Daddy, he sold tickets till they closed the station down/Now the tracks that shone like silver have turned to rusty brown/Thirty years ago the last train rolled through town.”) Wonderful for all ages.

TRAINS FOR OLDER READERS

 images-21 Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children (Albert Whitman & Company, 1989), originally published in 1924, features four orphan siblings who – terrified of being separated – set up house on their own in an abandoned boxcar. As of the end of the book, they’ve been adopted by a wealthy grandfather who preserves the boxcar. Many many sequels. For ages 7-10.
 images-22 E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children (Random House, 2012), originally published in 1906, is still a great read. The main characters – three children, with their mother – move to a house near the railroad when their father mysteriously disappears. Through their interest in the trains, the kids are eventually able to find and vindicate their father, who has been unfairly accused of spying. For ages 9-12.
From Project Gutenberg, see the text of The Railway Children online.
 images-23 Daniel Pinkwater’s The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization (Sandpiper, 2009) is hysterically funny – and it involves train travel, as Neddie’s father on a whim relocates the entire family from Chicago to LA, so that they can eat cheeseburgers at the Brown Derby, a restaurant shaped like a hat. The plot involves a shaman named Melvin, a mysterious turtle token, a phantom bellboy, and several of Neddie’s friends, among them Yggdrasil (Iggy), a very competent girl named after the mythological World Tree. For ages 10-13.
 images-24 Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (Harper, 2011) features debonair detective Hercule Poirot (he of the little gray cells and the enormous moustache), a famous train, and a wealth of suspects. For ages 13 and up.
 images-25 The 1974 movie version of Murder on the Orient Express stars Albert Finney as Poirot and an impressive cast of potential murderers, among them Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, and Vanessa Redgrave. Rated PG.
 images-26 China Mieville’s Railsea is set in a universe of continents and islands connected by train tracks (the railsea) and populated by moldywarpes, giant tunneling mole rates, tundra worms, and blood rabbits. Our hero, Sham ap Soorap, is part of the crew of the moletrain Medes, where he serves as apprentice to the train’s doctor, while the Captain obsessively pursues a vicious ivory-colored mole that took her arm off years ago. (Sound like Moby Dick? It’s supposed to.) There’s also a treasure map and pirates. For ages 14 and up.
 images-27 Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery (Harper, 2008) is riveting story and a fascinating look at the Victorian era, with adventure, romance, and trains. For teenagers and adults.
The 1978 movie version of The Great Train Robbery stars Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, and Lesley-Anne Down. Rated PG.

ORPHAN TRAINS

From the mid-19th century to the 1920s, New York City’s Children’s Aid Society shipped abandoned or orphaned children by train to adoptive families in the west. These trains came to be known as the Orphan Trains.

 images-28 In Eve Bunting’s picture book Train to Somewhere (Sandpiper, 2000), shy, plain Marianne has been sent west on an orphan train, at each stop along the way looking vainly for her real mother. Finally, in Somewhere, Iowa, the train’s last stop, she finds a loving home with a couple who had thought they wanted a boy. For ages 5-8.
 images-29 Joan Lowery Nixon’s Orphan Train Adventures series follows the adventures of the six Kelly children (Frances Mary, Mike, Megan, Danny, Peg, and Petey), sent west on the orphan train to find new homes when their widowed mother is no longer able to support them. There are seven books in the series, beginning with A Family Apart (Laurel Leaf, 1995). Suspense, adventure, and mystery for ages 10 and up.
 images-30 Andrea Warren’s Orphan Train Rider (Sandpiper, 1998) alternates a history of the orphan train movement with the real-life story of Lee Nailling, sent to Nebraska via orphan train in 1926. A fascinating account, illustrated with period black-and-white photos, for ages 10 and up.
 images-31 Also by Andrea Warren, We Rode the Orphan Trains (Sandpiper, 2004) is a collection of personal histories of eight different orphan train riders. For ages 10 and up.
 images-32 In PBS’s American Experience series, the 60-minute film The Orphan Trains (2006) is fascinating history of the movement, with first-person accounts and period photos. Included at the website are background information, an extensive resource list, and a teacher’s guide.

WRECKS AND DISASTERS

 images-33 Paul Goble’s distinctively illustrated picture-book The Death of the Iron Horse (Bradbury, 1987) is the true story of a band of young Cheyenne warriors who, on August 7, 1867, derailed a Union Pacific freight train – the fearsome Iron Horse, that breathed smoke and had a voice like thunder. For ages 5-9.
 images-39 Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express (Margaret K. Wetterer; Carolrhoda, 1991) is the brave and true tale of young Kate Shelley who saves the Midnight Express from disaster when, during the Mississippi Flood of July, 1881, the railroad bridge over Honey Creek breaks. An exciting bit of history for ages 6-10.
 images-35 In Angela Johnson’s award-winning I Dream of Trains (Simon & Schuster, 2003), a young black boy, working in the cotton fields near the railroad track, dreams of trains and of his hero, the legendary engineer Casey Jones. When Jones is killed in a train collision, he worries that his dreams are over – until his father wisely explains that “there’ll be other trains,” reassuring him that someday he’ll be able to leave and find his place in the world. For ages 5-9.
 images-36 Stephen Krensky’s Casey Jones (First Avenue Editions, 2007) in the On My Own Folklore series is the story of the train engineer who became a folk hero when he managed to save all his passengers when the Cannonball collided with another train. For ages 7-10.
 casey History reports that the train wreck may have been all Casey’s fault. See the Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum for an alternate account of the story, a photograph of Casey, and the lyrics to “The Ballad of Casey Jones.”
 images-37 Check out the world’s 8 Most Amazing Train Wrecks.  (Casey’s Cannonball isn’t one of them.)
 images-38 George Bibel’s Train Wreck: The Forensics of Rail Disasters (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) is an analysis of crashes for the seriously interested. Chapter titles include “How Trains Crash, Then and Now” and “Gravity: It’s the Law.” For teenagers and adults.

HISTORICAL TRAINS  

 images-40 Patrick O’Brien’s Steam, Smoke, and Steel: Back in Time with Trains (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000) is a lovely picture-book story of trains, as a boy traces his family history on the railroad from his several-times-great-grandfather on.
 images-41 Seymour Simon’s Book of Trains (HarperCollins, 2004) pairs full-page color photos of trains with an informative text. For ages 6-10.
 images-42 In John Colley’s Train (Dorling Kindersley, 2009), one of the volumes in the Eyewitness series, each double-page spread covers an aspect of trains in chronological order, from the first railroads through the trains of the future, all illustrated with wonderful prints and photographs. Learn about steam trains, electric trains, royal trains, and locomotive record breakers. For ages 7-11.
 images-43 Illustrated with gorgeous paintings and diagrams, Lynn Curlee’s Trains (Atheneum, 2009) is a 48-page history for ages 8-12.
 images-44 John Perritano’s The Transcontinental Railroad (Children’s Press, 2010) is a nicely designed short chapter book – illustrated with photos, drawings, maps, and prints – about the building of the famous cross-country railroad, a project that enlisted 20,000 workers and took from 1863 to 1869. Included are resource lists, a page of “True Statistics,” and a glossary. For ages 7-11.
 images-45 Mary Ann Fraser’s Ten Mile Day (Square Fish, 1996) – illustrated with paintings and peppered with informative sidebars – is a history of the transcontinental railroad centering around the record-making day when 10 miles of track were laid (the result of a $10,000 bet). For ages 8-11.
 Through The Woods 1906-275 From Legends of America, The Railroad in the American West is a collection of railroad lore, historical accounts, quotations, and vintage photographs.
 images-46 In the PBS American Experience series, Transcontinental Railroad is the story of one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. Included at the website are background information, interviews, a timeline, and a teacher’s guide.
 images-47 From PBS’s American Experience series, Riding the Rails is an account of the Great Depression, when hundreds of thousands of teenagers became hobos, crossing the country by illegally hopping on freight trains. See the website for background info, maps, a timeline, and a teacher’s guide.
 images-48 Christian Wolmar’s The Great Railroad Revolution is a history of American railroads beginning in the 1830s when the our very first railroad line, the Baltimore & Ohio, opened. For teenagers and adults.

SCIENTIFIC TRAINS  

 train-1 How Trains Work has great illustrated (and reader-friendly) information on the history and science of trains, with a helpful resource list.
 5878-1 Are hydrogen-fueled trains the wave of the future? From NPR, Towards Hydrogen Trains is an interesting discussion of the possible future of the railroads.
 RTEmagicC_TrainWheels-problem.png Train Tracks is a hands-on experiment that demonstrates how trains go around corners. It’s harder than you might think.
 images-49 Build a Levitating Train using magnets, similar in concept to the phenomenal Maglev trains now being used in Europe and Japan.

  RAILROAD SONGS AND POEMS  

 images-50 From Smithsonian Folkways, Classic Railroad Songs (2006) is a collection of 29 traditional songs by various musicians, among them “Jay Gould’s Daughter,” “Rock Island Line,” “John Henry,” “Casey Jones,” and “Wabash Cannonball.” Available for purchase either as a CD or download.
  Train Songs is a long long list of titles, with artists. (No music, but it’s a start.)
 images-51 One of the best known of all American railroad songs is I’ve Been Working on the Railroad. This site has the lyrics, a video, and background info on the song.
 images-52 Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem From a Railway Carriage has a wonderful beat like a speeding train: “Faster than fairies, faster than witches,/Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;/And charging along like troops in a battle/All through the meadows the horses and cattle…”
 images-53 In W.H. Auden’s Night Mail, a train carries the mail: “This is the night mail crossing the Border/Bringing the cheque and the postal order/Letters for the rich, letters for the poor/The shop at the corner, the girl next door…”
 images-54 From T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009), Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat is the cat without whom the Night Mail just can’t go.
  For more books and resources (many) on cats, see MILLIONS OF CATS, BILLIONS OF CATS.
 images-55 Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Travel evokes all the romance of train travel: “My heart is warm with friends I make/And better friends I’ll not be knowing;/Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take/No matter where it’s going.”
 images-57 Edited by Peter Ashley, Railway Rhymes (Everyman’s Library, 2007) is a priceless collection of poems celebrating trains and train travel. For teenagers and adults.

ARTS, CRAFTS, AND ACTIVITIES

 handtrain Chugga-chugga Choo choo! Train Craft has instructions for making a great paper train from a tracing of your handprint (the locomotive) and arm (cars).
From Preschool Express, Trains is a collection of simple train-based art projects and games for little kids.
 T4K2cover Trains4Kids has train photos, coloring pages, stories, videos, and assorted games and activities, among them instructions for making a conductor’s hat and a train whistle.
 0707a_steamtrain From Spoonful, Build Your Own Train has a printable steam engine template (complete with engineer). Cut out and assemble.
 trn-140 Printable Train Craft has nice templates for engine, cars, and caboose, to color and assemble.
Train Craft has printable patterns for engine, cars, and caboose. Trace onto colored paper, cut shapes for wheels and windows, and use in any number of ways – for example, hang it on a wall and add a new car for various milestones.
 circustrain-step12 From First Palatte, Circus Train is a great papercraft project in which kids assemble a terrific circus train, complete with animals. Included are printable templates, but kids may have more fun making their own.
 images-59 From Artists Helping Children, Train Crafts for Kids has a long list of projects, among them cardboard box trains, an egg-carton train, a recycled train (save tin cans), a crocheted train, and more.
 images-60 From Melissa & Doug, the Decorate Your Own Train kit includes a chunky unpainted wooden locomotive with instructions, paints, and decals.
 images-61 Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Trucks and Trains (Little, Brown, 2005) is a step-by-step instruction book in which simple shapes are combined to turn out a series of fantastic trains and trucks. For artists ages 7-10.
 images-62 In this clever interactive train game with PBS’s Caillou, kids have to match missing pieces of the track (turns, switches, bridges) to allow the train to pass through.
 images-63 From Days of Wonder, Ticket to Ride is a cool train card game, in which players collect illustrated train cards and use them to complete routes between cities (while avoiding train robbers).  The game includes 96 train cards, 46 destination cards, and a rules booklet. For 2-4 players ages 8 and up.

MODEL TRAINS

 images-64 From Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the Great Train Story is an account of the museum’s famous model railroad exhibit (20 trains, 1400 feet of track). Check out the video.
 images-65 Lionel, still the primo name in model trains, sells dozens of train sets and accouterments for beginners on up.
Visit Hobbylinc for dozens of train sets, including wooden train sets and tracks for younger train fans.
 images-66 The Jensen Dry Fuel Steam Engine is a terrific little working replica of an 18th-century steam engine, of the sort used to propel early locomotives. The engine comes in pieces, which must be assembled using a few basic tools (hammer, screwdriver, and pliers); once completed, it’s about eight inches tall, equipped with nickel-plated boiler, throttle valve, ear-piercing whistle, water gauge, and safety valve. The engine runs on dry fuel pellets, which are safe and simple to use. This is one marvelous little machine. Unfortunately it’s also expensive – prices range around $100 – but a worthwhile investment for a truly enthusiastic family of budding engineers.
The National Toy Train Museum has information on getting started with model railroads (for younger kids and teens), sources for model railroad supplies, activities, and reading lists.
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The Buzz on Bees

 

Bees are incredible. They can count to three, tell a Picasso from a Monet, solve the Traveling Salesman Problem in the blink of an eye, and make honey – and they pollinate everything from apples, beets, and Brazil nuts to pumpkins, tangerines, and watermelons. And they just might be disappearing, which is something we should all worry about.

See below for ways to help the bees – along with bee stories, bee poems, bees under the microscope, dancing bees, zombie bees, and robotic bees. And, of course, Winnie-the-Pooh.

BEE TALES

 images A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, originally published in 1926, with wonderful illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard, features a pudgy honey-loving bear who has an unfortunate adventure with bees.  Also see the equally delightful sequel, The House at Pooh Corner, and the Latin version, translated by Alexander Lenard – Winnie Ille Pu (Penguin, 1991) – in which Pu loves mel. For all ages, always.
 images-1 Craig Frazier’s charming Bee & Bird (Roaring Brook Press, 2011), with its bright stylized illustrations, is both a journey (from tree to truck to boat to beehive) and a study in perspective, as more and more of the surroundings are revealed. The book moves, for example, from a highly magnified bee to a view of a bee balanced on a seemingly immense bird’s head to bee and bird, perched in a towering tree, and so on. For ages 2-6.
 images-2 Steve Smallman’s The Very Greedy Bee (Tiger Tales, 2010) is a lesson in sharing. The greedy bee refuses to do his share of chores around the hive and spends all his time guzzling pollen and nectar – to the point where, stuffed full, he thumps to the ground, unable to fly. He’s helped home by some kindly fireflies and ants, and all ends happily with a party (featuring honey), some new friendships, and a lesson learned. For ages 3-7.
 images-3 Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand (Viking Juvenile, 2011) recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. This is the now-classic story of the peaceful bull who loves to sit under the cork trees and smell the flowers – until a badly timed bee sting convinces visiting recruiters for the bullfight that Ferdinand would be a perfect candidate for the bullring in Madrid. For ages 3-8.
 images-4 Melita Morales’s Jam and Honey (Tricycle Press, 2011) is the story of a little girl gathering berries for jam, and a young bee, looking for nectar to make honey. Initially scared silly of each other, they soon learn to comfortably share the berry patch. For ages 4-8.
 images-5 In Cece Bell’s Bee-Wigged (Candlewick, 2008), people simply did not like Jerry Bee – who was a perfectly enormous (though friendly) bee. In an attempt to make friends at school, Jerry acquires a wig that hides his antennae and makes him look (well, sort of) like a boy. He’s loved by all, until a wind snatches off the wig, revealing his true bee nature. Luckily the wig – actually a talkative guinea pig named Wiglet – averts panic by reminding people that the real Jerry is a sweetheart. For ages 4-8.
 images-6 The panic-stricken protagonist of Melanie Watts’s Scaredy Squirrel (Kids Can Press, 2008) is terrified of everything – including bees – and so refuses to leave his tree. Anything could be out there in the fearsome unknown – Martians, sharks, tarantulas, germs – though he’s well-prepared for threats with an emergency kit containing everything from antibacterial soap to a parachute. Then one day, terrified by passing (killer?) bees, he leaps from his tree – and discovers, to his amazement, that he’s not just a squirrel: he’s a flying squirrel. There are many sequels, in which Scaredy Squirrel variously fears rabbits, piranhas, jellyfish, falling coconuts, dragons, ghosts, bats, confetti, ponies, and Bigfoot. For ages 4-8.
 images-7 In Andrea Cheng’s When the Bees Fly Home (Tilbury House, 2002), Jonathan’s father prefers Jonathan’s athletic younger brother, who is better equipped to help with the family beekeeping business. When a drought hits and the family finances are threatened, artistic Jonathan saves the day with his creative beeswax candles. A story of differently talented kids, packed with a lot of bee facts. For ages 5-10.
 images-8 Frank R. Stockton’s The Bee-Man of Orn (Candlewick, 2004) is a reprint of the 1964 original. The elderly Bee-Man lives contentedly with his bees until a visiting Junior Sorcerer informs him that he’s been “transformed from something else” and encourages him to go on a quest to discover his original form. He does, with enlightening and surprising results. A classic for ages 6-11.
  The text of The Bee-Man of Orn is online at Project Gutenberg.
  The Teaching Children Philosophy website has background information and discussion questions for The Bee-Man of Orn. The main theme: the importance of self-exploration and examination.
 images-9 Doris Buchanan Smith’s A Taste of Blackberries (HarperCollins, 2004), originally published in 1973, deals sensitively with tragedy, when the narrator’s best friend, Jamie, dies of an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Poignant, thought-provoking, and ultimately healing for ages 7-10.
 images-10 In Thomas Keneally’s Ned Kelly and the City of Bees (David R. Godine, 1995), young Ned – in the hospital recovering from appendicitis – is visited by a bee, Apis, who gives him a drop of golden liquid that shrinks him to a size where he can ride on her back. Off he goes with Nancy Clancy – who speaks in rhymes and has lived with the bees for over a century – for a summer of adventure, during which he learns the ways of the hive, meets the bee queen and an activist drone named Basil, and helps fight off an attack by wasps. Genuine bee science delivered through fantasy/sci fi. For ages 9-12.
 images-11 In Kathe Koja’s Kissing the Bee (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007), it’s senior year in high school, and Dana – a hopeful science writer and bee researcher – is dealing with her changing relationship with her best friend Avra (the “queen bee” in her social circle) and with Avra’s boyfriend, Emil, with whom Dana is in love. A teen romance and coming-into-your-own story with bees.  For ages 13 and up.
 images-12 From the Brothers Grimm, The Queen Bee is the tale of three brothers, the youngest of whom triumphs because of his kindness to ants, ducks, and bees.

COUNTRY BEES, CITY BEES

 images-13 In Laurie Krebs’s catchy rhyming picture book The Beeman (Barefoot Books, 2008), a little boy describes the work of his grandfather, the town beekeeper. (“Here is the queen bee/Who does her job well/and lays tiny eggs/in a six-sided cell.”) For ages 4-7.
 images-14 Patricia Polacco’s The Bee Tree (Puffin, 1998) is a clever cumulative tale in which Mary Ellen and her Grampa search through the Michigan woods for a bee tree filled with honey. (There’s also a nice lesson at the end about the benefits of reading.) For ages 4-8.
 images-15 Lela Nargi’s The Honeybee Man (Schwartz & Wade, 2011) is the picture-book story of Fred, who keeps beehives on the rooftop of his apartment building in Brooklyn. Readers learn about the busy life inside the hive, the process of foraging for nectar, honey-making and honey harvest, and end with a neighborhood honey feast. For ages 4-8.
 images-16 The theme of Maggie de Vries’s Big City Bees (Greystone Books, 2013) is pollination. Sophie and Matthew have planted pumpkins in their city garden – but there’s no chance of pumpkins if the blossoms aren’t pollinated by bees. Are there bees in the city? And will the bees find their pumpkin patch in time? For ages 5-8.
 images-17 Brian McCallum and Alison Benjamin, Bees in the City (Guardian Books, 2011) is an urban beekeeper’s handbook, with accounts of beekeeping projects by schools, businesses, and communities, and how-tos for city environments.

 MYSTERIES WITH BEES

 images-18 In Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Honeybee Mystery (Albert Whitman & Company, 2000) – one of the Boxcar Children series – the four Alden children and their grandfather head to the Sherman farm for honey – only to find that there’s no honey to be had. Something is wrong with the bees. Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny learn about bees and beekeeping, while solving the mystery (and saving the farm). For ages 7-10.
 images-19 The heroine of Laurie R. King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Picador, 2007), set in 1915, is orphaned teenage heiress Mary Russell, bright, gawky, and unhappily living with her guardian, a nasty aunt. Then, out for a walk, she meets the elderly Sherlock Holmes, now retired and devoting himself to the study of bees. Impressed by Mary’s sharp wits, he decides to tutor her in investigative techniques. In this, the first of a series, Mary and Holmes tackle a mystery that involves a kidnapping, a master criminal, and a threat to both their lives. For teenagers and adults.
For many more mysteries and related resources, see SHERLOCK AND COMPANY: A MULTITUDE OF MYSTERIES.

BEE MOVIE

 images-20 In the animated Bee Movie (Dreamworks, 2007), bee Barry B. Benson (voiced by Jerry Seinfeld)  – recently graduated from college – is discouraged by his sole job option: making honey. Off he goes to New York, where he becomes friends with a florist named Vanessa – and discovers that humans eat honey. Outraged, he decides to sue the human race.  Rated PG.
A beekeeper points out the problems with Bee Movie – try his True/False quiz – in Seinfeld’s World of Drones.

NON-FICTION BEES  

 images-21 In Alison Formento’s These Bees Count! (Albert Whitman & Company, 2012), Mr. Tate’s class visits a farm and learns all about bees – counting-book-style, starting with one swarm, two dandelions, three strawberries. The paper-collage illustrations are terrific. For ages 4-7.
 images-22 Lori Mortensen’s In the Trees, Honey Bees (Dawn Publications, 2009) is a rhyming introduction to honeybees with realistic illustrations and occasional prose paragraphs of scientific information. For ages 4-8.
 images-23 April Pulley Sayre’s picture book The Bumblebee Queen (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2006) is a gentle poetic description of the life cycle of a bumblebee (“The bumblebee queen/begins the spring/below ground/and all alone”), punctuated with “fact circles” that provide additional information about bumblebees. For ages 4-8.
 images-24 Judy Allen’s Are You a Bee? (Kingfisher, 2004) in the Backyard Books series addresses the reader directly, describing your life if you were a bee: “When you hatch, you are not a pretty sight. You are a larva.” For ages 4-8.
 images-25 Anne Rockwell’s Honey in a Hive (HarperCollins, 2005) in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series, covers the life cycle and behavior of bees and the process of making honey through a reader-friendly text illustrated with detailed paintings. For ages 5-8.
 images-26 Gail Gibbons’s The Honey Makers (HarperCollins, 2000) covers life in the hive, the functions of queen, drones, and worker bees, and the process of bee-keeping and honey-harvesting, these last through sample pages from a bee keeper’s diary. For ages 6-9.
 images-27 Joanna Cole’s The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive (Scholastic, 1998) covers the same ground as Gibbons’s book (above) with a zany sense of humor: in this volume of the popular series, eccentric teacher Ms. Frizzle tricks her students out in bee costumes, sprays them with pheromones, and transports them (via magic bus) into a beehive. Information is delivered through after-action student-written reports. For ages 6-9.
From Scholastic, The Magic School Bus in a Beehive lesson plan includes a bee-dance exercise, in which kids not only dance, but estimate and measure distances. (Recommended accompanying snack: honey on crackers.)
 images-28 By Kate Riggs, Grow With Me: Bee (Creative Paperbacks, 2013) is a well-designed look at the behavior, anatomy, and life cycle of the bee, illustrated with color photographs. For ages 7 and up.
 images-29 Charles Micucci’s The Life and Times of the Honeybee (Sandpiper, 1997) is a creatively designed overview of bee/honey history and science. Double-page spreads cover such topics as “From Egg to Bee,” “How Honeybees Make Honey,” “A Honey Flower Menu,” “Buzzing Around the World,” and “Flying Through History.” For ages 7-11.
 images-30 By Stephen Buchmann, beekeeper and entomology professor, Honey Bees: Letter from the Hive (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010) is a history of bees and honey from prehistoric times to the present for ages 11 and up.
 images-31 Stephen Buchmann’s Letters from the Hive (Bantam, 2006) is a more detailed history of bees, honey, and humans for teenagers and adults. Various chapters cover a typical beekeeper’s year; bees and honey in myth, legend, and ancient warfare; a history of cooking with honey; mead (“the honey that goes to your head”); and medicinal honey.
 images-32 Hilda M. Ransome’s The Sacred Bee (Dover Publications, 2004) is a history of bee mythology, folklore, and superstitions from around the world, with many illustrations and photographs of artifacts – among these bees on ancient Greek coins, in Egyptian wall paintings and Mayan hieroglyphics, African bee carvings, and more. For teenagers and adults.
 images-36 Andrew Gough’s Arcadia is an excellent online three-part history of bees from prehistory on, illustrated with terrific color photographs of artifacts.
 images-34 The American Beekeeping Federation has information on beekeeping and bee research, and a list of useful links for kids.
 images-35 Tales From the Hive, the companion website to the NOVA program of the same title, has information about the anatomy of a hive, fascinating facts about bees, an interactive bee dance feature, and a resource list.
 images-35 The Buzz About Bees website is crammed with information about types of bees, bee behavior and life cycles, beekeeping, bee gardening, and more – along with bee pictures, bee poems, bee video clips, puzzles and activities for kids, and an extensive book list.

ACTIVITIES AND LESSON PLANS

 snas_dancesbees_lg.jpg__155x1000_q85 Dances with Bees is an elementary-level science activity in which kids discuss animal communication, learn about bee dances, and participate in their own waggle dance.
 images-37 From Scholastic, Get the Buzz on Honey Bees is an elementary-level four-part lesson plan (aligned to National Standards in Science and Geography) with colorful reproducibles and illustrated student activity sheets. Kids learn about nectar, honey, and pollen; the anatomy of bees; life in a beehive; and bees and the environment.
 BeeMemory Bee Memory Experiment has instructions for making a simple homemade bee feeder and using it to test bee memory. For ages 4 and up.
 images-37 Honey Bees: Science Activities for Kids has bee lesson plans and suggestions for planting a bee garden and building a bee house.
 ahbhome From the University of Arizona, this excellent series of Africanized Honey Bee lesson plans (for grades K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12) does cover Africanized bees, but actually concentrates on honey bees in general. Included are activities and projects, printable information sheets and worksheets, and a bibliography to accompany each lesson.
 images-38 From Discovery Education, Bees is a lesson plan for grades 6-8 in which kids design experiments to study the process of pollination, using young patio tomato plants. Included is a list of discussion questions.
Bees Louise has a list of bee-based lesson plans for a range of ages. For example, kids learn bee anatomy by creating their own bee costumes; make a “Colorful Bees” mobile; make a Nectar Navigator and learn how bees find food; dissect a flower while learning about pollination; and dissect an adult bee.

DISAPPEARING BEES

 images-39 Suzanne Slade’s What If There Were No Bees? (Picture Window Books, 2010) emphasizes the importance of bees to ecosystems and food chains. Other titles in the series include What If There Were No Gray Wolves? and What If There Were No Sea Otters? Thought-provoking picture books for ages 5-8.
 images-40 Odo Hirsch’s Darius Bell and the Crystal Bees (Allen & Unwin, 2012) does not, as I expected, feature magical crystal bees. Instead, the real bees are dying; the Bell estate – which raises fruits and vegetables – is threatened; and Darius sets out to solve the problem, despite opposition from a villainous mayor and difficult school principal. For ages 8-12.
 images-41 The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010) tracks four scientists as they try to solve the current mystery of disappearing honeybees, a deadly phenomenon known as “colony collapse disorder” or CCD. Illustrated with color photographs; included is an excellent supplementary resource list.  For ages 11 and up.
 images-43 From the New Yorker, Stung by Elizabeth Kolbert is an excellent article on bees and colony collapse disorder (CCD).
Birds as well as bees? From Wired magazine, this article discusses concerns that the neonicotinoid pesticides implicated in colony collapse disorder may also be killing birds.
From Forbes, Colony Collapse Disorder – The Real Story Behind Neonics and Mass Bee Death argues that there may be more to CCD than a pesticide problem.
 images-44 Queen of the Sun (2010) is a documentary on the global bee crisis, with appearances by beekeepers, entomologists, and historians, among them Michael Pollan and May Berenbaum.
 images-45 The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees sponsors an annual bee-based essay contest for students. The 2013 topic is “Reducing the Use of Bee-Killing Pesticides in My Community.”
Bee Detective is a creative lesson plan for grades 6-8 in which participants follow clues while attempting to determine the cause of colony collapse disorder.
 images-46 The Great Sunflower Project is an annual citizen-science project in which participants plant “bee-magnet” plants – such as sunflowers – and count the visiting bees. All ages welcome.
 images-47 Bee Hunt, funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Science Foundation, is a citizen science project studying pollinators – including the all-important bee. Find out how to participate at the website.
For more bee-related citizen science projects, see PollinatorLive. The site includes links and brief descriptions of citizen science projects surveying bees, butterflies, birds, and more. (Volunteer!)

SCIENCE AND BEES

 images-48 Joel Levy’s A Bee in a Cathedral and 99 Other Scientific Analogies (Firefly Books, 2011) presents basic scientific concepts in memory-jogging fashion, using creative analogies and infographics. Readers discover, for example, that a chunk of a neutron star the size of a sugar cube weighs more than the entire human race; that a single thunderstorm contains enough energy to power the U.S. for four days; and that every cell in the human body (except red blood cells) contains about two yards of DNA. The bee in the cathedral is a famous analogy comparing the size of the atomic nucleus (the bee) to the size of the atom (the cathedral). For ages 12 and up.
 images-49 Rose-Lynn Fisher’s Bee (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012) is a spectacular collection of photomicrographs of bees – magnified hundreds to hundreds of thousands of times (using a scanning electron microscope).  Fascinating for all ages.
 images-50 To get a good look at bees, close up, try a Microslide Viewer (American Educational Products). This is a wonderful tool designed for the viewing of microslides – that is, collections of photomicrographs taken at various magnifications. Users get the effect of a high-powered microscope, but – unlike a microscope – the microslide viewer is inexpensive (about $10), essentially unbreakable, easily washable, and can be used by the very young.
 images-50 Microslide sets each include a strip of 8 related photomicrograph images and an explanatory booklet. The Honeybee Microslide set, for example, includes photomicrographs of bee mouth parts, antenna, compound eye, wing hooks, pollen basket, honeycomb cells, and sting and poison sac. For more information on Microslide Viewers, worksheets and lesson plans, and an (enormous) list of available Microslide sets, see American Educational Products.
 images-51 Flight of the Bumblebee explains how bumblebees fly. (Not very efficiently, it turns out.)
 images-52 A jolt of java for the bees? From the NY Times, this article discusses research showing that plants lure in pollinating bees with caffeine-laced nectar.
 images-53 From the Smithsonian magazine, The Secret Life of Bees by Carl Zimmer explores the complex behaviors of bee swarms.
Do bees communicate using electricity? Read about it here.
 images-54 Zombies! Zombie bees – who really do act like zombies – have been parasitized by a lethal zombie fly. A citizen science initiative, ZomBee Watch, collects data tracking infected bees. Learn how with their online tutorial and join in.
How Bees Work – illustrated with photos, labeled diagrams, and video clips – covers bee anatomy, types of bees, bee venom, pollination, the bee life cycle, navigation, honey production, colony collapse disorder, and more.
 images-55 What does a honeybee see? Find out at B-Eye.
 images-56 Tiny flying bee robots! Learn all about Robobees.
 images-57 Numbering Bees is an interesting illustrated account of how Karl von Frisch first discovered the honeybee dance language.

MATHEMATICAL BEES

 images-62 Bees do math.  In fact, this article describes how they’re better than computers at solving the famous “traveling salesman” problem – that is, how to visit as many places as possible while expending the least amount of energy.
 images-63 The Traveling Salesman Problem website has background information, a history of the problem, solution strategies, and games.
 images-64 Bees has printable design-your-own addition and subtraction worksheets, featuring bees and beehives.
 images-65 Bumble Numbers in a math arcade game of arithmetic equations played with an animated bee. Players grab numbers out of the air with their bee and drop them into the flower with the corresponding equation.
 images-66 Bear vs. Bee is an online logic game in which players help Bear (dangling from a balloon) to collect honey, while dodging angry bees.
Getting a Bee in Mathematics Class (by Brian Sharp from Teaching Mathematics in the Middle School) is a challenging series of math explorations based on bees for grades 6-8, with explanations and printable student worksheets.

HONEY

 images-58 The National Honey Board has general information about the history and uses of honey, and dozens of categorized honey recipes.
 images-59 Holley Bishop’s Robbing the Bees (Atria Books, 2006) is a “biography of honey,” variously covering the science of bees and beekeeping, and the history of humans’ interactions with bees and honey. Included are honey recipes (“Old and New”). For teenagers and adults.
 images-60 Jay Ingram’s The Velocity of Honey and More Science of Everyday Life (Basic Books, 2006) is a collection of reader-friendly essays in which the title honey essay explains just why honey doesn’t ooze every which way when poured on toast. It’s an adult book, but an interesting read for ages 13 and up.
 IMG_0008 Viscosity is a measure of the “thickness” of liquids: honey and molasses (thick) are notably viscous; water and apple juice (thin) aren’t. Viscosity Races is a great experiment investigating viscosity for ages 5 and up. You’ll need a homemade ramp, an assortment of liquids, and a tape measure or stopwatch. (And, I would guess, lots of paper towels.)
For kitchen chemists, these printable activity sheets on Viscosity are part of a larger unit on the Science of Cake Baking. For either ages 5-7 or 8-11.
 images-67 Viscosity Explorer is a cool online tool for studying the properties of liquids.
 images-68 From Steve Spangler, Seven Layer Density Column has instructions for making a spectacular multicolored seven-layer column of liquids of various densities, starting with very heavy honey. A very cool experiment.

BEE POEMS

 images-69 Betsy Franco’s Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008), with wonderful colorful illustrations by Steve Jenkins, is a celebration of pattern in nature through poetry, with subjects that include the puffer fish, diamond-backed rattlesnake, snail, peacock, spider, and bee. (“Study a beehive/and you will see/the mathematical genius of the bee.” ) Delightful for ages 3-8.
 images-70 Carol Gerber’s picture book Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More! Poems for Two Voices (Henry Holt and Company, 2013) is a collection of 18 poems to be read in alternating voices, variously celebrating seed distribution, germination, plant growth, and pollinators – among them bees. For ages 4-8.
 images-71 “Honeybees,” in Paul Fleischman’s prize-winning collection Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (HarperCollins, 2004), is a clever dialogue between a worker bee and a queen. (Worker: “Being a bee…is a pain.”)
  A selection of the poems from Joyful Noise  – including “Honeybees” – is online here.
 images-72 Douglas Florian’s UnBEElievables (Beech Lane Books, 2012) is a collection of honeybee poems and illustrations (using creative mixed media on paper bags). Sample titles: “Bee Anatomy,” “Drone,” and “Where Are the Bees?” For ages 5-10.
 images-73 Emily Dickinson wrote several wonderful poems about bees – among them “Bee! I’m expecting you!” written as a springtime letter to a Bee from an impatient Fly.
 images-74 Rudyard Kipling’s “The Bee-Boy’s Song” describes the traditional belief that all family news must be told to be bees.
 images-75 Bee-Hexagon is an historical survey of honey and bees in poetry, from ancient Egypt to Pablo Neruda.
 images-76 Sylvia Plath’s five bee poems –  “The Bee Meeting,” “Sting,” “The Swarm,” “The Wintering,” and “On the Arrival of the Bee Box” – are found in her collection Ariel (Harper Perennial, 2005). For teenagers and adults.
 images-77 British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s The Bees (Faber & Faber, 2013) is a powerful poetry collection with an on-going theme of bees. For teenagers and adults.

BEE ARTS AND CRAFTS

  bee_thumb First School’s Bee Craft page has a list of bee-themed activities for preschoolers, including online coloring pages, an introduction to the letter B, and a make-your-own-flying-bee pattern.
 images-78 DLTK’s Bumblebee Craft Projects has instructions for several bee projects, among them a bee bookmark, fingerprint bees, and paper-plate bees.
 bee-c-5 Bee Craft has (sparse, but illustrated) instructions for making queen, drone, and worker bees from paper cones.
Make a Bumblebee Mobile with fuzzy chenille stems and Styrofoam balls.
 Recently Updated51 BZZZ Says the Bumble Bee has instructions for making particularly cute bees from toilet-paper rolls.

MUSIC OF AND BY BEES

  images-79 From NPR, The Bee’s Knees: Music With a Definite Buzz is an assortment of bee-ish music, including three versions of “The Flight of the Bumblebee” (one on the tuba); Franz Schubert’s “The Bee,” and Emily Dickinson’s “Bee, I’m Expecting You” set to music.
 images-80 This online rendition of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Croatian pianist Maksim Mrvica will knock your socks off.
 images-79 From Tonehammer, listen to Music Made With Bees. Just bees.
 images-81 Diego Stocco’s Music from Nature, made to commemorate Earth Day 2012, incorporates bees, tree branches, rice, and coconuts.
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