Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Water and Life in First Grade: Rivers and Oceans

Young Discoverers series
by Barbara Taylor
(also part of The Earth: The Geography of our World)

This is the book recommended for Mater Amabilis™ Level 1B (first grade) Earth Studies. I've now used it four times with four different children along with the excellent schedule of lessons as recommended by Mater Amabilis™, which we follow almost exactly.

In this little book are the very basics of understanding water on earth: the water cycle, underground water, rivers, lakes, oceans, waves, and water pollution. The topics are mainly covered in one or two main paragraphs and lots of full-color illustrations and diagrams. There are many suggestions for little demonstrations you can do at home with materials you probably have on hand, most of which are included in the Mater Amabilis™schedule for you.

In addition, Mater Amabilis™ recommends regular visits (six or seven) to a local water environment. We've been lucky for the last few years to have access to a friend's bit of river which we visited regularly during our nature study time; it's easily the favorite place of the children. Over time, we've seen the river running high, overflowing its banks, and running drastically low. We've seen prints of deer, raccoons, and dogs in the sand near the river, frogs leaping from the edge, and surprises like an armadillo and a bald eagle. The children tried building bridges of sand and crossing rivulets with logs...which I tell myself must be educational somehow. Visiting some other local water environments encouraged comparisons and allowed us to see other phenomena, like the ice forming on top of the water of a little pond and only at the edges (when ice never formed on the river). It can be difficult to find an appropriate place or to make the effort to go where children are likely to get sandy and wet, but the fruits are worth it.

Years ago, I collected a few picture book titles from the library that match up with the topics in the Rivers and Oceans study. In the beginning, I put these in a picture book basket. We don't have a picture book basket anymore (pause for no-more-preschoolers-sigh). For Second Son, I sometimes read them aloud, sometimes gave them to him to read, and sometimes just let them sit on the library book shelf.

On the water cycle:

Water Is Water by Miranda Paul (on the blog here, library copy)

Rivers of Sunlight by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm - This book is a little busy in its illustrations for my taste, but it shows how water moves, changes, and flows throughout the world. It's much more than the water cycle. (library copy)

On freshwater life:

A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison - on the blog here. (library copy)

Pond by Gordon Morrison - This book follows the life of a pond through the seasons of a year. It's a lovely picture book of the natural world. (library copy)

On great rivers of the world:

Sacred River: The Ganges of India by Ted Lewin - Lewin is a masterful illustrator and world traveler who treats subjects around the world with respect and grace. (purchased at a library book sale)

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest by Steven Jenkins - This book covers more than just water around the world, but Jenkins provides illustrations that place geographical features in perspective in his excellent style. (library copy)

On municipal water:

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen - a typical Magic School Bus book with good descriptions and illustrations of how cities clean and manage water. (library copy)

Just for fun:

Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So - The poems are enjoyable, but the illustrations are perfect. (library copy)

Wave by Suzy Lee - a wordless picture book of a girl and a wave, surprisingly wonderful. (used copy from

The Big Big Sea by Martin Waddell (on the blog here, used copy from

I purchased Rivers and Oceans long long ago, used, from somewhere. This review is my own opinion and I did not receive anything for it. Links to Amazon and PaperBackSwap are affiliate links.)

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