Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Start of School - Nothing to Sneeze At

Even though it's not yet Labor Day - the signature date for the end of summer in many areas - teachers are two weeks into the school year here in Knoxville. It's back to basking in the glow of fluorescent lights after soaking up extensive amounts of Vitamin D while reading a novel on your back porch or watching grass grow from the bleachers of the T-ball field this summer. The start of school brings visions of classrooms stocked with pencils, glue sticks, new crayons, and hopefully a case of tissues. Yes, it's that time of year when you have to rebuild your germ immunity that may have lapsed over the summer.

Fighting off those ever-present germs in a classroom is nothing to sneeze at (for a brief history of that phrase, check out this explanation). If you want to learn more about sneezing, here is an excellent resource:  Sneeze, by Alexandra Siy and Dennis Kunkel (2007).  Alexandra is an outstanding science trade book author, and I guarantee that kids will love this book! It has the "wow" factor from the full page scanning electron microscope images of items that cause you to sneeze (mites, house dust, goose down, influenza virus) as well as the parts of you involved in sneezing (bronchial tube, skeletal muscle). The images are paired with simple text and pictures of kids sneezing and engaging in activities leading to sneezing (looking for their cat under the couch). So clever! A glossary and information about the book images completes this resource.

As long as we're on the topic of body invaders, I'll include a second one that has perhaps a little more of the ick-factor as far as my kids were concerned: What's eating you? Parasites - The inside story by Nicola Davies (2007). The cartoon-style illustrations do include talking tapeworms and bike-riding fleas, but the text is scientifically accurate (as well as extremely interesting). You may not encounter fleas or tapeworms at your school, but you are most likely already a host for harmless hair mites, and many schools have head lice checks --- it's just science in your everyday life! This book presents information about both harmful and harmless parasitic organisms in a non-threatening (and not overly grotesque) manner, and along the way, contextualizes terms such as habitat, ectoparasite, and endoparasite.

Best wishes for a healthy school year!


  1. I am still loving this resource! I have purchased or borrowed and read to my students many of these books. Thank you for your efforts. A question for you...We will be building a chicken coop on our school property this year. Do you have any trade book recommendations that would "perfectly pair" with this project?

    1. Oh! I've got a couple great ones that I used when my class hatched eggs...guess by now they would be considered "classics!" I will see what others I can find and it'll be the subject of this week's post!