Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Snails, Slugs, and Spirals

Our front sidewalk has long been a highway for slugs on humid summer nights, but my barefoot kids (and husband) often forget this when they take the dog out after dark. Usually, their reaction involves words like, "Gross!" "Ugh!" or (on the rare occasion that it is the last straw at the end of a long day) "Salt!" Usually, in true mom fashion, I take that opportunity to remind them about cool slug and snail facts...like those contained in these books. (Well, in two of the books, anyway!)

We highlighted one of Sarah Campbell's books in our very first blog entry, but I want to point out another one here. Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator, is an informational text told in a clear, simple
fashion that even young elementary students can understand, despite including some complex vocabulary. The large photographs bring the reader eye to eye with this carnivorous snail, and Sarah includes additional wolfsnail facts and a glossary at the back of the book, which is great for teachers who want to be able to answer students' questions about this fascinating snail. And, if you explore Sarah's website a little more, you can find the backstory about how this book came to be (think real life research project sparked by a 3 year old's discovery), a video of a wolfsnail eating, and teaching materials designed for use with the book. All three of my kids (ages 9-17) loved both the video and book!

A nice partner book for this is Joyce Sidman's more poetic Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature. This book combines simple text like, "A spiral is a growing shape. It starts small and gets bigger..." with bold, labeled illustrations of a variety of spirals. Sidman characterizes spirals using words like
"strong," "clever," and "bold," in the primary text, and then, in the last two pages of the book, includes both a definition of a spiral and expanded details about the labeled pictures found throughout. (It also mentions the Fibonacci series, which would go hand-in-hand with Sarah's other book, Growing Patterns!)

Finally, the language arts teacher in me has to mention one of my favorite books from the team of Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole, Some Smug Slug. The only scientific value I can truly attribute to this book has to do with the circle of life, but the vocabulary is fabulous...particularly in relation to words that start with "s"! This book starts, "One summer Sunday while strolling on soil, with its antennae signaling, a slug sensed a slope." Animals (whose names each start with s) try to warn the slug of the impending doom, but the slug continues sauntering and swaggering and slithering up the slope. I won't ruin the surprise, but suffice it to say that it is no ordinary slope.

1 comment:

  1. The salt reference makes me think of the Far Side cartoon with a slug family heading to the Great Salt Lake for vacation - Slug Family Disasters!