Picture Book Recommendations
Picture books are a great way to introduce STEM-related topics. Below are some of our favorites. New books are added each month. Beginning soon, the Whittier Public Library will have both physical and electronic copies of recommended books at each branch location. Thank you Whittier Public Library!
Activities for children: In City Shapes we see how shapes are all found around us. Think about a building (like your school) or place (like a playground) in your neighborhood that you’d like to recreate with a collage. Cut out shapes (ex. squares, triangles) of varying size from colored paper. On a separate piece of paper, begin placing your cut shapes in a way that recreates the building or location you imagined. Once you have the shapes placed as you’d like, begin gluing them down one by one.
Activities for children: Stephen Hawking used his curiosity and perseverance to make many discoveries, including how light can escape black holes up (now known as Hawking radiation). To learn more about Stephen Hawking and his discoveries, check out these National Geographic Kids Websites (10 Facts About Stephen Hawking and Black Holes).
Activities for children: This is a true story of inventor, activist, humanitarian and scientist Garrett Morgan who created the first ever gas mask called a ‘Safety Hood’ and many other inventions. What are inventions that you think would help keep your community safe? How can you help others? Once you think of an idea, you can get a piece of paper and draw a picture or write a description of your invention and explain how it would help people.
Activities for children: This is based on a true story of Doctor Patricia Bath. Despite racial and gender inequality, nothing stopped Dr. Bath from going to medical school and becoming an optometrist. 1) Learn more about Dr. Bath’s incredible life and career with this Britannica Kids article or Wikipedia article. 2) To learn more about how glasses work, check out this short video by The Friday Zone Kids Video. 3) With the support of her parents, Dr. Bath was able to help others see. Who is someone in your life who encourages you to reach your goals? You can write or draw how that person supports you as you reach your goals.
Activities for children: The book’s main character, Charlotte, loves technology! She took apart her doll, updated its power supply, and added new lines of code to make the doll more interactive. If you want to learn more about coding you can try one of the activities described in Coder Kids.
Activities for children: This book discusses the California Coastal Redwoods. To learn more about the redwoods, check out their official website from the U.S. National Park Service. You can also complete this Junior Ranger Booklet from the National Park Service & California State Parks. To learn more about the Junior Ranger Program through California State Parks, click here for more information.
Activities for children: Maxine said “If you can dream it you can make it.” To help you better explore your dreams, you and an adult can think about: What is something that you dream about doing? You may want to talk or write about your dreams as it is a great way to explore your future goals. Additionally, in the book Maxine uses her toys to innovate (i.e. create something new). With adult permission and supervision you can try one of these STEM Creations (from The STEM Kids) with items found around your home.
Activities for children: If you enjoyed learning about coding in this book, you may want to visit the associated Adventures of Ara. The website has games, additional book suggestions (like Ara the Dream Inventor), and more information about all your favorite characters. If you like stars, consider having your own star gazing party (see Star Parties from National Geographic Kids) or checking out these readings and videos about space (Space Primary Resources also from National Geographic Kids).
Activities for children: Want to learn more about dinosaurs? Check out the National Geographic Kids webpage for readings, games and videos. In 2021, National Geographic Kids held its first DynoMAYnia – a month-long celebration of all things dinosaurs (check out this video of Nizar Ibrahim, Paleontologist and National Geographic Explorer talk about his love for dinosaurs). You can also play online games through PBS Kids: Dinosaur Train Fossil Finder.
Activities for children: A paleontologist is a scientist who studies fossils. You can learn more about fossils through this short Dinosaur Train video from PBS Kids or the Paleontology for Kids website created by the American Museum of Natural History (site includes games, readings and videos). The Little Passports website includes directions for how to explore excavation (i.e. digging up) fossils just like a paleontologist does. Finally, if you would like to visit a museum that has fossils, consider taking a trip to either the La Brea Tar Pits or the Natural History Museum.
Activities for children: The character in this book asks many questions such as, “Why do leaves change colors?” If you have ever wondered the same question, try out our local resource guide exploring leaves that can be found here: Local Resource Guides – Science Circus Whittier. Learning new things about the natural world often involves observations (what you can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch). Perhaps try a nature walk in your local community. Click the Sesame Street video about nature walks & science Sesame Street: Nature Walk – YouTube.If you enjoyed this book, try and read one of the other books in the series including ‘An Engineer Like Me’, ‘A Coder Like Me’, ‘A Mathematician Like Me.’
Activities for children: This book is based on a true story of an eight year old girl named Sophia Spencer who loved insects learning about entomology (the study of insects). You can learn more about insects by 1) visiting a butterfly or insect exhibit (like the Butterfly Pavillion at the Natural History Museum); 2) watching a video like Nat Geo Insects Video; and 3) with adult permission, go on an insect hunt (like the one described after the read-aloud video). Explore your yard, a park, or somewhere else you like to visit to find the bugs that call that place home. Here is an article where Sophia answers questions about her inspiration to write this book.
Activities for children: In this book the main character Pearl provides very specific computer instructions to her robot Pascal known as coding. Pascal is coded to make Pearl a sand castle at the beach. Here are a few activities you can do to practice coding just like Pearl: (1) Think of a clear task you would like a robot to do for you (examples include sharpening a pencil, brushing your teeth, or feeding your pet). Once you have thought of the task you would like your robot to do, identify each specific step needed to complete that task. Draw out each step on a piece of paper along with your robot doing the task. Some tasks take repetitive actions; when this happens, coders use a loop sequence so that the task will be completed over and over again. For example, a robot that sharpens a pencil can be used in a loop so the task can be repeated multiple times. (2) If you want to try online coding, with adult permission you can do one of these fun coding games for kids. (3) For another book to read, by the same author check out How to Code a Roller Coaster
Sir Cumference Book Series
Written By Cindy Neushwander & Illustrated By Wayne Geehan
Check out the Author’s Profile on Amazon
Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone – ISBN-10: 1570916012
Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland – ISBN-10: 157091169X
Sir Cumference and the First Round Table – ISBN-10: 1570911525
This week we will highlight author Cindy Neuschander for her book series ‘Sir Cumference.’ These books are great for readers who enjoy puns, riddles and a fun read. Within each book contains wonderful math-related activities to follow throughout. The recommended audience for this series is upper elementary or middle school students who are preparing for geometry based learning. An activity book accompanying this series can also be purchased.
Activities for children: Mr. & Mrs. Comfort had 8 tables and 32 chairs for their family reunion. Can you figure out how many chairs should be placed at each table to accommodate their entire family? You can print out spaghetti & meatballs for all worksheet idea to help you think through your ideas. Additionally, there are fun activities in the back of the book to help bring the mathematical concepts addressed by the book to life. Be safe and have fun!
Activities for children: 1) Go on a scavenger hunt around your home! Look for some common shapes that you saw in Iggy Peck’s designs as well as in your neighborhood. 2) What type of building would you like to design? For inspiration, look at some of these designs from around the world (10 Amazing Architectural Designs Around the World). Once you have your inspiration, it is time to create your blueprints (sketches or drawings of what your building will look like and how it will be built). With adult permission, you can make your architectural plan come true by collecting toothpicks and marshmallows or gumdrops to make your building or bridge (click link for example). Be safe and have fun!
Activities for children: Raye Montague was a naval engineer who did many math calculations for the United States military. To learn more about Raye Montague’s life, read Raye Montague (Britannica Kids). You can also try and make your own small submarine at home and see if it will sink or float. Here are some instructions to help get you started. Be safe and have fun!
Activities for children: The main character in this story, Rosie, had to believe in herself and her work to make her airplane fly. She used the materials she had available to her and creatively thought to build her dream airplane. What is something that you would like to build? Once you think of something that you want to create, make a plan of how you would build that item. With adult permission, collect recycling items such as old cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, empty paper towel rolls, cans, and try to actually build your own invention. Here are some ideas to get you started 25 Inventive Cardboard Activities and Games for Learning. Be safe and have fun!
Activities for children: This book shares the inspiring story of inventor Lonnie Johnson, an engineer and inventor. To learn more about his life you can read Lonnie Johnson (Wikipedia), or listen to a Super Soaker interview with Lonnie Johnson. What kind of toy would you like to invent? Grab a piece of paper and start sketching out your ideas. You never know where they may take you! Be safe and have fun!
Activities for children: Cat in the Hat sure knew how to have a lot of fun. He traveled around in different weathers, climates and places to travel the world around him. Here are two weather-related games that you can play (online): (1) Sid the Science Kid Games Weather Surprise | PBS KIDS (2) Play Games | NASA Climate Kids. In the book you may have noticed that different animals adapt to live in different climates (like the penguins). Visit Plants And Animals | NASA Climate Kids to find out more about how animals adapt and live in certain climates. You can watch animals through the San Diego Zoo Animal Live Cams (Live Cams | San Diego Zoo). Have fun & be safe!
Activities for children: Katherine Johnson is a real life hero! Katherine had strong leadership skills and perseverance that allowed others to count on her with her work at NASA. Learn more about Katherine through this link to her biography from NASA. You can also watch the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ by director Theordore Melfi (rated PG) that tells the story of Katherine Johnson and other amazing women who worked at NASA. Hidden Figures Movie Trailer.
Activities for children: Have you ever tried to work on something several times and it did not come out “magnificent” as you thought it was going to be? In this situation you probably practiced being persistent, meaning you don’t give up. Sesame Street Videos “Don’t Give Up” and “The Power of Yet” are both great songs that discuss the importance of being persistent when learning new things. Did you know engineers have to practice being persistent all the time when they are designing new inventions? It’s true! Have you ever wanted to invent something? Think of an invention you would want to create and make a blueprint of your invention idea. Think about: What materials you would need? What tools do you need? How does your invention look? After having thought of a plan for a magnificent invention, try and create it. With adult permission and supervision, collect tools and supplies to make an invention. Here’s a website Invention Ideas for Kids | LoveToKnow with some ideas of inventions you could create. Have fun & be safe!
Activities for children: In the book the main character anticipates rain coming following a summer heat wave. Have you ever wondered why rain occurs? What causes thunder and lightning? Try one of these activities: 1) Watch the video: What Causes Thunder & Lightening? 2) With adult supervision, you can make a cloud in a jar (DIY Cloud in a Jar). 3) Replicate how rain occurs by using a glass jar, shaving cream and food coloring dye (Here’s How: How to make a Rain Cloud in a Jar). Have fun and be safe!
Activities for children: Ada Twist is a young scientist who often wondered How? When? and Why do things work the way they do? She is so curious about the world around her! You too are like a scientist who can wonder about the world around you. Can you think of a question you wonder about? Why does a balloon fly? Why is the sky blue? How does an airplane work? With adult permission you can do your own research by direct observations or reading online. For more ideas about science topics you can explore at home, check out the Simple Science Activities from PBSKids. Once you’ve conducted your research, let us know what you’ve discovered! With adult permission you can email us, or contact us through instagram. Have fun & be safe!
Activities for children: Just like you, mathematician Paul Erdos was a curious and innovative young child! He dedicated himself to traveling the world and exploring places using math! Click the link Paul Erdős – Wikipedia to learn more about his life. You can also solve math problems just like Paul Erdos. Can you figure out how many days are left till your summer break? Or calculate how many days you have been alive? To do this, multiply your age by 365 days (the number of days in a year). For example, if you are exactly 10 years old and there’s 365 days in a year you’ve lived in 3,650 days! Another way to explore numbers is to find specific kinds of numbers. For example, a prime number is only divisible by 1 and itself. How many prime numbers can you identify between 1 and 100? Have fun and be safe!
Activities for children: After reading the book we want you to practice sharing, splitting and dividing similar to Cinderella and her sister Tinderella. If you were able to go trick or treating, you can practice splitting pieces of candy into groups. How could you split your candy into two equal groups? How does the number of candies in each group change if you split the them into three equal groups? You can also practice “skip counting” by counting your candies by two’s, three’s, four’s, and so on. If you do not have Halloween candy, you can use other items (e.g., books, blocks, lego pieces, stuffed animals, etc.) around your home for these activities. Have fun and be safe!
Activities for children: Please note that these activities require access to a pumpkin. (1) Do pumpkins sink or float? What do you think? You can take a whole pumpkin and place it into a tub or plastic bin filled with water to test out your ideas. (2) Try to identify the type of pumpkin that you have. Did you know that there are lots of types (or varieties) of pumpkins? Pumpkins differ in size shape, texture, and color! Here is a list of different pumpkin types for you to check out. (3) Carve the pumpkin to look at the seeds. First estimate how many seeds to do you think are in the pumpkin? Write it down before you start counting. Try skip counting (e.g., count by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, etc.) as you take out the seeds. Also, how do you want to arrange your seeds so that you are organized? In groups of 5? Groups of 10? Once you’ve counted all of the seeds, refer back to your estimate. How close were you? Have fun and be safe!
Activities for children: Here are some additional ways you can explore plants and their seeds. (1) Take a trip to the garden section of Home Depot or Lowes (or a garden center like Armstrong Garden Centers). Once you are in the garden section, look at the instructions that come with different plants. How much water do different plants need? How much sunlight? Do all plants need the same amount of each? Also in the garden section, you will be able to find seed packages. On these packages you will find a lot of information about when to plant the seeds, how many seeds should be planted together, how far apart seeds should be planted, and much more. Why do you think we plant seeds in different ways? (2) If you have seeds at home, with an adult’s permission you can plant one in a cup of soil, outside, or inside a “germinator” as described by this PBS Kids video. As the seed grows, you can see what the plant looks like as it just begins to break the surface of the soil. If you want to watch this process quickly, here is a time lapse video of a seed germinating (i.e. beginning to grow). Here is a reading from National Geographic Kids on the life cycle of flowering plants that includes more information on germination.
Activities for children: This book’s main character, Sofia Valdez, finds a problem she wants to fix in her community: a landfill overflowing with trash. This story documents how Sofia finds her voice as she advocates for her solution to the landfill problem. What is something you would like to see happen in your community? Is there a problem that you want to see solved? Like Sofia, talk through your ideas with your family or friends; this is a great first step towards identifying a potential solution. In the book, Sofia visits City Hall to gain support for her solution to the landfill. Did you know there is a City Hall in Whittier located on Penn Street? With an adult, you can plan a visit or review the City of Whittier webpage for opportunities to volunteer and get involved in community events. Have fun & be safe!
Activity for children: In addition to the wonderful activities in the back of the book, with adult permission here are some more activities you can do. (1) Get a piece of paper and pencil to create a map of your room, house, or yard. (2) Create an obstacle course on a piece of paper and then – using items from your home – make that obstacle course come to life. (3) Using Google Earth, find an aerial image (i.e. one taken looking down over the area) of a park in your community. Use that aerial image to draw a map. Have fun & be safe!
Activity for children: After listening to the audio book, with adult permission, we want you to think of a question you wonder about insects (ants, flys, spiders) or animals (birds, squirrels etc..). Then go outside (it may be your front yard, a park or anywhere else) and investigate that question. Try and learn more about the insect or animal, you may observe (watch them) from a distance, and draw a picture, or you may search them online and do your own research to help answer your question. Have fun & be safe!
Activity for children: After listening to the book, we want you to pick your favorite building from the story that you want to recreate. Using items you can find around the house (legos, toys, play-doh, blocks etc.) try to create a building from the book. Have fun & be safe!
Activity for children: After listening to the book, with adult permission grab some pieces of paper and cut up different shapes (triangles, squares, rectangles, octagons, hexagons, etc.). When you are done cutting out shapes, similar to in the book, try and make your own magical animals, or designs. To get you started here are some printable shapes to download, and some design ideas! Have fun & be safe!
A great activity with tangrams is also located in the back of the book. Check it out!
Activity for children: In the book Cece’s dog is named Einstein… we want you to learn more about a famous scientist named Albert Einstein. With adult permission click the link for this Albert Einstein for Kids Video. While watching the video, write down what you learned about Albert Einstein and the important contributions he made to science.
Activity for children: After listening to the book, with an adult go on a walk around your block or your favorite park. Here are some things you can do on your walk: (1) While on your walk look for squirrels, trees and birds just like you saw in the book. (2) Look for specific trees or locations you’d like to draw a picture of when you get home. (3) Finally, with an adult’s permission, you could collect leaves, twigs, grass and other pieces of fallen nature. When you get home, organize the pieces and on a piece of paper to create a design that looks like a tree.
Activity for children: After listening to the book, either print the grid provided or draw something similar. For this activity we want you to find shapes around your community or in your home. Like a scavenger hunt, with an adult go and find as many different shapes you can find and an example of each. Have fun and be safe!