As Climate Week 2019 comes to an end, I thought it was a good time to kick off a series of blog posts with eco-themes for teachers/educators and pair them with some of the nonfiction picture books I use with my students to highlight the material.
The eco-themes are based on the wonderful Sustainable Intelligence curriculum offered by EcoRise, an organization with a school based program aiming to empower youth to tackle real-world challenges in their schools and communities by teaching environmental literacy, social innovation, and hands-on design skills. EcoRise offers engaging, ready-to-use, K-12 curriculum that guides students in building sustainability knowledge.
A few months ago, I was chosen as a Teacher Ambassador for EcoRise and spent a few days in Austin, TX immersed in a teacher training workshop with an incredible cohort of other educators from around the country. The sessions offered inspiration, motivation, and practical/powerful ways to facilitate meaningful environmental education lessons in the classroom.
The 7 eco-themes in EcoRise’s Sustainable Intelligence curriculum are water, energy, waste, food, air, transportation, and public spaces. All of these are centered around the important concept of sustainability.
Note: If you’re a teacher and would like information about sampling the EcoRise curriculum (or possibly gaining access through a grant in your state), send me a message and I’ll be happy to help you connect 🙂
This post will focus on Eco-theme #1: WATER
September has been all about WATER in my classroom. My second grade students explored questions such as, “How wet is our planet?” and “How does pollution impact water?” They also explored water testing and brainstormed ideas for improving water quality in our community and around the world. Extensions led to discussions and research about animals affected by water pollution. The foundation for my lessons came from EcoRise‘s Sustainable Intelligence curriculum.
Here are some nonfiction pictures books I used to help underscore the eco-theme of water and spark questions & curiosity:
The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs
Written by Kate Messner
Publisher’s Synopsis: All it takes is one: one coral gamete to start a colony, one person to make a difference, one idea to change the world. The ongoing efforts to save and rebuild the world’s coral reefs—with hammer and glue, and grafts of newly grown coral—are the living legacy of Ken Nedimyer, founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation. Kate Messner and Matthew Forsythe tell the true story of the coral restoration pioneer in this brilliant tribute to the wonders of nature and the power of human hope.
Ages 6-9 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | May 8, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1452133508
Written by Seymour Simon
Publisher’s Synopsis: From award-winning science writer Seymour Simon comes a brand-new nonfiction photo essay picture book that explores the one thing on Earth we cannot live without: water!
Learn all about the water cycle, the effect on our planet of rising ocean temperatures, how essential clean water is around the world, and more!
Ages 6-10 | Publisher: HarperCollins | October 31, 2017 |ISBN-13: 978-0062470546
Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin
Written by Michelle Cusolito
Illustrated by Nicole Wong
Publisher’s Synopsis: Climb aboard Alvin, the famous deep-sea submersible credited with helping to find the Titanic, and take a trip two miles down to the bottom of the ocean.
Experience a day in the life of an Alvin pilot and join scientists at the seafloor to collect samples and conduct research. Along the way, discover what one wears, eats, and talks about during a typical eight-hour trip in a underwater craft and find out more about the animals that live deep in our oceans. Extensive back matter explains how Alvin works, describes the author’s research, and includes a glossary and further reading.
Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Charlesbridge | May 22, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1580898119
Over and Under the Pond
Written by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Publisher’s Synopsis: A secret underwater world brought to life: In this book, readers will discover the plants and animals that make up the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain pond. Over the pond, the water is a mirror, reflecting the sky. But under the water is a hidden world of minnows darting, beavers diving, and tadpoles growing. These secrets and many others are waiting to be discovered?over and under the pond.
Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | May 7, 2017 |ISBN-13: 978-1452145426
And…I can’t wait to use this one next week as we wrap up our water lessons (Thank you, Maria G., for the suggestion!)
Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle
Written by Miranda Paul
Illustrated by Jason Chin
Publisher’s Synopsis: Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Water is water unless…it heats up.
Whirl. Swirl. Watch it curl by. Steam is steam unless…it cools high.
This spare, poetic picture book follows a group of kids as they move through all the different phases of the water cycle. From rain to fog to snow to mist, talented author Miranda Paul and the always remarkable Jason Chin (Redwoods, Coral Reefs, Island, Gravity) combine to create a beautiful and informative journey in this innovative nonfiction picture book that will leave you thirsty for more.
Ages 6-10 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | May 26, 2015 |ISBN-13: 978-1596439849