Reviewed by Marilyn Cook
Touch it! Build it! Change it! Move it! Sound like fun? This book takes what we do everyday and explains it clearly. Hooray for physical science for young children!
Science and literacy together make a great combination for teachers of young children. Who knew? Yes, physical science. By providing engaging pictures and activities this author takes concepts that might seem difficult and makes them into everyday happenings. The illustrations in this book make the concepts easier to understand and provide a good visual representation.
The material world is explained in Touch it! The first chapter has children describing materials, comparing mass, using magnets, floating materials, and stretching materials. For each topic there is an animal that presents a summarizing fact. Although the animal is “talking”, you could use this as a teachable moment about scientific fact. This picture and sentence does not take away from the actual concept and would not lead to misconceptions. For example, a squirrel says “When I take a bite out of a tomato, its mass changes.” For young children this would help them understand mass and that it changes in a way that is understandable. When presenting materials and different textures a cat says, “My fur is smooth and my tongue is rough.” For children explanations such as this one helps relate that prior knowledge to the science concept. Build it! explores structures that are all around. One activity in this section has the children building a puppet and discussing it as a structure. In all the activities in each section there is a question that has the children reflecting by asking “What’s happening?” A monkey says “My backpack is a structure, its parts are joined with thread, zippers and buckles.” A common object for children described using “structure”.
Change it! Explores matter for children in understandable ways by painting with salt. After the activity the children are invited to reflect on “What’s happening?” Let’s see we used water that disappeared because it changed into water vapor but the salt, a solid, stayed on the paper and made the picture. Hmmm…hadn’t thought of it that way before reading this book and I have used this technique in teaching art. You can bet my explanation now will be in these terms.
Move it! explores force as push and pull with a kangaroo saying “To hop, I push off from the ground.” A bird with a worm in its beak says “I used a force—a pull—to get my dinner out of the ground.” An activity illustrating force uses three bowls, each filled with a different material. The student pushes then pulls each bowl across a table. Throwing and kicking a ball, stopping a ball by catching it, and pushing pedals on a bike further illustrate the concepts.
The author includes a section for information and activities for parents and teachers to teach physical science for each of the four sections. A glossary of “Words to know” is also included, containing developmentally appropriate definitions that are used in the book.
I would use this book to make science centers for kindergarten through second grade students to explore the topics, as well as use it for presentations with those grade levels. I would also put this in my science library for students to use for reference. The more young children hear the correct terms of physical science the more integrated into their daily activities the explanation of these concepts become. Who knew a foundation for physical science concepts could be understandable for young children? Onward to upper grade physical science courses! At the risk of sounding trite “I really like this book!”
Review posted on 5/22/2012