Teach Science, Literature and Art: Read Aloud Science Books and Creative Expression Equal Classroom Fun

Although elementary science textbooks are packed with content and interesting material for children, most teachers of young children have found that science is best taught with active rather than passive lessons. One creative way to plan such lessons is by inviting outstanding science books into your classroom and using them as a springboard in planning motivational, hands-on art activities that are related to the reading selections.

There are so many elementary science books! How do I find the best ones?

Since 1973, in a joint effort by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Children’s Book Council (CBS), a yearly list has been published of books selected as outstanding children’s science trade books. Books are coded according to science areas and instructional levels, making it a user-friendly teacher resource.

Science Lesson Components

Read Aloud Book

  • Select an animal-themed book at the listening level of your students. This level will usually be a bit higher than the average silent reading level of the class.
  • The reading should be done by the teacher so all students may participate in active listening and learning.
  • Let the length of the book determine how long the lessons extend. Shorter books may generate one lesson, while longer ones may extend longer.
  • Use the same teacher read-aloud skills as used with other teaching books-good eye contact, expressive reading, preplanned oral questioning, and classroom discussion of interesting facts.

Science Fact Map

On a chart or classroom board, stop and list facts learning about the animal as the book is being read. A combination of the fact map and oral discussion will reinforce learning for both visual and auditory learners.

Picture or Diagram Display

If possible, include in each lesson an enlarged picture of the animal being studied. Provide description cards that can be attached by students to reinforce listening for hands-on or kinesthetic learners in your classroom.

Hands-on Art Activity

When the read-aloud is completed, students should then participate in a creative art activity that will enable them to express some aspect of what they have learned. This may be an activity designed for either small groups or individual students.

Think creatively when planning and allow children the time and materials to create their own product from their learning experience. Encourage them to stretch their creative muscles!

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Sample Books and Art Ideas

This book has wonderful color photographs of frogs from all over the world. Make color copies of these frogs and create a teaching collage as the book is read that students might then refer to when creating their own frogs.

The perfect materials for this activity are flat river rocks, but if not available, paper bowls turned upside down may be substituted. Students may use crayons, paint, markers, construction paper and stickers to create their own frogs. Have each student write a sentence describing the frog and share orally in class.

Sponges, Jellyfish, and Other Simple Animals. 2006. Steve Parker. Compass Point Books, 44pp.

Have children work in small groups to create shoebox habitats for the creatures they have learned about. Paint and construction paper may be used for the habitat background, then synthetic sponges, wet spaghetti (for jellyfish tentacles), and other found objects may be used in creating the animals. Creative writing may also be an extension activity, perhaps using a story starter such as “If I lived in the ocean I would…”

Our job is improving the quality of life, not just delaying death.

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