Everyday Life Science Mysteries
by Richard Konicek-Moran

Price at time of review: $25.95
254 pp.
NSTA Press
Arlington, VA
ISBN: 9781936959303

Grade Level: K-8

Reviewed by Eloise Farmer
science consultant

This book has everything an elementary classroom teacher could ask for, all in one place, when planning and organizing science materials that will engage students while fulfilling the requirements of science standards.

Four chapters at the beginning of the book address the theory behind the book, describing how to use the book by using concrete examples, and explain the links between science and literacy. A useful section in the second chapter explains the organization of each chapter in the book by giving the purpose, related concepts, projections of student response, content background, and related ideas from the National Science Education Standards and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy. This is followed by a description of how to use each story with grades K–4, and 5–8, a Concept Matrix, and a list of references from journals and books. The third chapter explains how to use the book as a content curriculum guide, or in teacher preparation methods courses. How the stories also can be used as interactive inquiry plays is also illustrated. Chapter four is devoted to the use of science notebooks and working with ELL students.

Before beginning with the actual stories, a two–page "Mysteries Matrix" is offered which lists basic concepts covered in each story. Concepts include such things as life cycles, adaptation, energy, cells, etc. Since teachers need to develop lessons around certain concepts, this information can be very useful in writing lesson and unit plans. The following chapters each have a separate short story, about two pages long, followed by materials useful to the teacher. These include the purpose, related concepts, a “don’t be surprised” paragraph, and content background. The content background section will be most useful to the teacher who may not have had the grounding in the science content behind the story. This is followed by related materials from the Standards and Benchmarks along with other reference material, and sections on how to use the story with grades K–4, and 5–8.

An elementary teacher could not go wrong having a copy of this book available when developing lessons to illustrate the big ideas and literacy connections now being required as science is integrated with the Common Core. Hopefully the references will soon be updated with references to the Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Review posted on 5/14/2013

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