Monday, June 23, 2014

Hodgepodge Learning

{This post contains Amazon affiliate links. While I do get a small commission if you make a purchase via my links, these are books I love and I would recommend them anyway!}

During the summer months, I attempt to fit in some stealthy schooling. Often we get our health credit out of the way.  Last year, we did a laid-back, super-fun, world geography unit study.  This year I was uninspired and truly just needed a break from schedules and requirements and record keeping.  (Teaching a middle schooler, a preschooler, and three children in between all at the same time is not for the faint of heart.)

Break or not, our family never stops reading so this summer I asked my kids if there were any topics they wanted to learn more about. The ideas flew and we jumped in.  We read two books about Vikings, a book about the International Space Station, several books about large cats, another about pirates.

Then Maddie asked to read about zoo animals.  I wasn't sure where to go with such a broad topic so I did a search on my library's website and hit a gold mine. We checked out these 2 over-sized books.  They were so large they didn't fit in my library tote bag and my boys had to carry them out of the library instead.

At Alaine's request, we started with Out of Sightby Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais  On each spread of pages, readers try to guess what animals are hidden beneath the series of flaps.  The first few pages are animal silhouettes and you must guess what animal matches the shape. Another page has ten animal patterns and you must guess which animal's fur or skin looks like the illustration.  At the end of the book comes a page of animal tracks and you must figure out what animal leaves that type of marking.  

As you lift each flap to reveal the answer, there is a very brief line of text that gives you a fact about the animal.

It goes without saying that we all loved this book and it was infinitely more fun than a dry text about animals.

After Out of Sight, we then moved on to Life-Size Zoo: From Tiny Rodents to Gigantic Elephants, An Actual-Size Animal Encyclopediaby Teruyuki Komiya.  Every animal, or piece of animal, in the book is life size.  Wonder how tall a meerkat stands?  Peek inside the book.  Want to compare your head to a giraffe's?  Open up this book.  It is fascinating.  The highlight of the book is the photographs, but there is also very brief, non-boring text on each page that points out things to look for on each animal and gives some little-known facts. 

We found this book (and several of its sequels) at our library, but Amazon has several copies for around $5 (including shipping).  It would be so, so worth the price!


  1. I'm glad you posted about these today, I couldn't remember the name of the first one :)

  2. These look like great fun, even for a "big" kid!
    Learning all the's the way to go!


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