Picturebooks for teaching science

This beautifully illustrated picturebook, A Rock is Lively, is an excellent introduction to the topic of rocks and minerals, which is part of Ontario’s Grade 4 Science and Technology Curriculum under the Understanding Earth and Space Systems strand. The book addresses Overall expectation 3 to “demonstrate an understanding of the physical properties of rocks and minerals” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2007). It also addresses Specific Expectations 3.1 and 3.3:

  • 3.1: “describe the difference between rocks (composed of two or more minerals) and minerals (composed of the same substance throughout), and explain how these differences determine how they are used.”
  • 3.3: “describe how igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks are formed […]” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2007).

I would use this book in teaching science to find out what they already know about rocks, to teach them more about the characteristics of rocks and minerals, and to introduce important vocabulary pertinent to the rocks and minerals curriculum expectations. For example:

  1. Teacher reads the book to the class, emphasizing key vocabulary and concepts.
  2. In groups of 4, students look at 3 different rocks for 5 minutes and individually write down what they notice about each rock (i.e. properties of rocks) and what they are still wondering.brainstorm
  3. Next, students discuss in their group what they found. They write down the common rock characteristics and one common wondering (i.e. they must come to a consensus).
  4. The teacher would then ask each group for one of their rock characteristics and one wondering.

A rock is lively

Aston, D.H., & Long, S. (2012). A Rock is Lively. San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books LLC.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2007). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8- Science and Technology.

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