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Friday, January 22, 2010

The Quirkles: Language Learning Through Science

A recent Education Week article pointed out the fact that experts are recommending an earlier start to teaching science. Most preschool and kindergarten teachers I know wouldn't argue with this suggestion; in fact, these same teachers encourage their students to interact in a truly hands-on way. After all, when you teach three, four, five, and six year-olds, every subject is hands-on anyway, whether you intend it that way or not.

In connection with this emphasis on science, preschool through lower elementary teachers will be happy to know that a series of science picture books was created just for them. The Quirkles series is an A-Z collection of picture books, each of which is part story, part alphabet book, part phonics book, part science reference book, and part experiment book.

Students first enjoy a short, science infused tale which is age appropriate in topic, vocabulary, and length. Every page of the tale is filled with zany, colorful illustrations. The tale tells tells a complete story, but also relates a solid scientific concept. Gilbert Gas, for example, explains why a shaken bottle of soda explodes on unsuspecting Gary Goat. (Did you notice the alliteration? Your students will as well!). Colorful Caroline explains how mixing primary colors produces secondary colors.

Each tale is followed by two related experiments requiring minimal materials while delivering maximum magic! (Sorry, that alliteration stuff is contagious). Okay, not really magic. But definitely some WOW results that will get kids excited about science.

The series is 26 books (that's right, one for each letter of the alphabet) containing 52 experiments (you can preview spreads from all books from a single page at the web site). It is, quite literally, an entire science curriculum, especially when you incorporate teaching guides, extension activities, and other extras provided by the publisher.

If you're a teacher of the younger crowd, bless you! I could never do it! And if you're hoping to take your science and language studies to the next level, this series is worth a look.