NSTA Recommends – Interdisciplinary Connections

Grades K-8

Provided by the National Science Teachers Association.

The following are excerpts from NTSA Recommends book reviews.

Leatherback Turtles
by Melanie E. Watt
Reviewed by Carolyn Anderson – Middle School Science and Math Teacher

Leatherback Turtles would have been more appropriately titled “Sea Turtles,” because so little is actually known about leatherback turtles. In order to have sufficient material for a book, the author has included information about all species of sea turtles. Excellent pictures support an informative text that provides a very good introduction to this group of reptiles for elementary and middle school students.

Connections to turtle folklore in many cultures make this book useful for interdisciplinary themes. The author also discusses conservation and preservation of sea turtles. This book is a good example of how appropriate use of layout and graphics can make a higher reading level accessible to elementary readers. This book will be a useful supplement to elementary and middle school curricula about reptiles, oceans, and marine biology.

Math and Science for Young Children
by Rosalind Charlesworth and Karen K. Lind
Reviewed by C. Shannon C'de Baca – Science Department Chair

Math and Science for Young Children is not a book filled with random activities. Instead, it is an excellent developmental tour through how children learn science and math concepts. The book is valuable as a focused text for college-level instruction of preservice and inservice lower-elementary teachers. Rather than simply picking the book up and reading for ideas, teachers are advised to follow critical reading with a discussion of the meatier and more complex issues with a colleague or class.

The book has more math than science, but the developmental issues cross between both subjects. The chapters include several that frame the concepts, an excellent one on assessment, two that focus on the development of the concepts, and several with a focus on applying the concepts in a variety of settings. The book is not organized in a linear sequence, but the chapters are arranged in a way that allows exploration of a wide range of issues and concepts.

Polar Bears
by Don Middleton
Reviewed by Patricia Voegler – Business Administrator

Polar Bears is a high-interest book that combines zoology and environmental concepts with literature and folklore for middle grade students. The high-quality pictures and creative graphic design would motivate any reader; younger and older students will also appreciate the information provided.

There is a unique section on folklore related to polar bears, including the myths of native peoples such as the Inuit and two folktales. The glossary defines bold-faced vocabulary, and the suggested readings elaborate on sources (including websites) for more information about polar bears. Teachers could use the books in this series, Untamed World, to teach an interdisciplinary unit or to develop team activities or a theme related to the “untamed world.”

A Walk in the Rain Forest
by Rebecca L. Johnson
Reviewed by Debby Chessin – Assistant Professor of Elementary Education

A Walk in the Rain Forest is a slim book that features vibrant photographs and detailed drawings depicting the flora and fauna of the rain forest biome. It would most strongly intrigue students in grades K-4; however, the visual appeal of the books and the interesting and factual information contained within may be enjoyed by learners of all ages. The interrelationships of the animals and plants that dwell in this environment are described in an interesting narrative text. Attractive inset drawings illustrate important facts and key organisms. While the reading level (3-4) would be challenging to most students in the target group, the glossary at the front of the book and the large type help make the information accessible. The second-person narrative style keeps the concepts within reach.

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