Resource Review: Backyard Guide to the Night Sky

I love astronomy, and Miss 5 is a budding astronomer herself. While my lesson plans have us doing astronomy in 2nd, 6th, and 10th grades in a more methodical way, it’s nice to have resources to answer questions & provide information to her now. So, when I was asked if I’d like to review National Geographic’s Backyard Guide to the Night Sky, I jumped at the chance.

Like other National Geographic publications, like National Geographic’s Space Atlas, this guide is beautifully illustrated. It’s a nice size to throw in a purse or bag for taking to your local observatory or up into the treehouse. Learn about the different planets, stars, and space features. Perhaps the biggest use of this book for now will be the constellations guide, particularly as we move into warmer weather and spend more time outside. This book makes an outstanding addition to any homeschooler’s library of reference materials. There’s even a section on stargazing with your children.

About Backyard Guide to the Night Sky

• Paperback: 288 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic; 2 edition (March 19, 2019)

Explore the star-studded cosmos with this fully updated, user-friendly skywatcher’s guide, filled with charts, graphics, photographs, and expert tips for viewing — and understanding — the wonders of space.

Stargazing’s too much fun to leave to astronomers. In these inviting pages, “Night Sky Guy” Andrew Fazekas takes an expert but easygoing approach that will delight would-be astronomers of all levels. Essential information, organized logically, brings the solar system, stars, and planets to life in your own backyard. Start with the easiest constellations and then “star-hop” across the night sky to find others nearby. Learn about the dark side of the moon, how to pick Mars out of a planetary lineup, and which kinds of stars twinkle in your favorite constellations. Hands-on tips and techniques for observing with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope help make the most out of sightings and astronomical phenomena such as eclipses and meteor showers. Photographs and graphics present key facts in an easy-to-understand format, explaining heavenly phenomena such as black holes, solar flares, and supernovas. Revised to make skywatching even easier for the whole family, this indispensable guide shines light on the night sky–truly one of the greatest shows on Earth!

Social Media

Please use the hashtag #backyardguidetothenightsky and tag @tlcbooktours.

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Review: How to Know the Birds by Ted Floyd

We have a pesky cardinal that likes to say “hello” twice a day by attacking our windows. Every day I think, “I really should put some stickers on these windows,” and every day I forget about that thought. Mr. 3 likes to sit and watch said cardinal, and he’s filled with lots of questions about birds. In fact, everywhere we go, my budding ornithologist spots birds and asks about them. So when I was asked if I’d like to review How to Know the Birds by Ted Floyd, I said “yes” with him in mind.

While this book isn’t an identification guide (see this other post for a North American Birds identification guide), it is a good resource for families incorporating nature studies into their homeschooling routines to have on hand. How to Know the Birds will help you to delve deeper into the intricacies of birds and birdwatching and answer a lot of the questions kids come up with when observing birds. For example, the chapter using cardinals as a primary example is titled, “Sex and Gender,” and uses the male cardinal’s bright red color to discuss sexual dimorphism – where the male and female of a species appear different and then cautions against assuming that it’s always the male in a bird species that exhibits the more fanciful markings.

About How to Know the Birds

• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (March 12, 2019)

Become a better birder with brief portraits of 200 top North American birds. This friendly, relatable book is a celebration of the art, science, and delights of bird-watching.

How to Know the Birds introduces a new, holistic approach to bird-watching, by noting how behaviors, settings, and seasonal cycles connect with shape, song, color, gender, age distinctions, and other features traditionally used to identify species. With short essays on 200 observable species, expert author Ted Floyd guides us through a year of becoming a better birder, each species representing another useful lesson: from explaining scientific nomenclature to noting how plumage changes with age, from chronicling migration patterns to noting hatchling habits. Dozens of endearing pencil sketches accompany Floyd’s charming prose, making this book a unique blend of narrative and field guide. A pleasure for birders of all ages, this witty book promises solid lessons for the beginner and smiles of recognition for the seasoned nature lover.

Social Media

Please use the hashtag #howtoknowthebirds and tag @tlcbooktours.

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Resource Review: The Splendor of Birds

I have a confession: I don’t like birds. I mean, I think they’re absolutely beautiful creatures, but for some reason, they terrify me. That said, every one of my kids has been fascinated with birds – and with good reason. They fly, they’re beautiful, and they’re covered in feathers. National Geographic’s The Splendor of Birds is the first of two resources on learning about birds that I had the opportunity to review  (the second resource will be reviewed later this week).

This volume goes through the history of art and photographs depicting birds in National Geographic. This is a visually stunning volume. In addition to the imagery in the book, there are excerpts from National Geographic covering birds. My kids enjoyed looking through the book and seeing the vast variety of birds that there are in the world. This is a great volume ot have in your homeschool library for artistic reference (for kids wanting to draw birds), biology reference, and just for kids who are curious about birds to look through.

About The Splendor of Birds

• Hardcover: 512 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (October 23, 2018)

An elegant collection of the best artwork and photography from the National Geographic archives depicting the magnificence of birds.

Bird, nature, and art lovers alike will treasure this sumptuous visual celebration of the colors, forms, and behaviors of the winged wonders who share our world as they have been explored, displayed, and revealed throughout the years by National Geographic. The book moves chronologically so readers witness the tremendous growth in our knowledge of birds over the last 130 years, as well as the new frontiers in technology and observation–from luminous vintage paintings and classic black and white photographs to state-of-the art high-speed and telephoto camera shots that reveal moments rarely seen and sights invisible to the human eye. The wide diversity of pictures captures beloved songbirds outside the kitchen window, theatrical courtship dance of birds of paradise, tender moments inside a tern’s nest, or the vivid flash of a hummingbird’s flight. Readers will delight in seeing iconic species from around the world through the eyes of acclaimed National Geographic wildlife photographers such as Chris Johns, Frans Lanting, Joel Sartore, and Tim Laman and reading excerpted passages from Arthur A. Allen, Roger Tory Peterson, Douglas Chadwick, Jane Goodall, and other great explorers. Exquisitely produced and expertly curated, this visual treasury displays as never before the irresistible beauty, grace, and intelligence of our feathered friends.

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Resource Review: National Geographic’s Space Atlas

My kids love space and all things planets and astronauts. I suspect a lot of kids feel the same (I know I did as a kid). When I was offered the opportunity to review National Geographic’s Space Atlas, I was thrilled to do so. This volume is nothing less than stellar. The illustrations are vivid and informative. Who knew there was so much of the surface of Mercury mapped? As I flipped through it with my nearly-three year old looking over my shoulder, I appreciated how the book provides a nice visual aid in teaching about our solar system on a very basic level, but then it also provides a nice reference resource for middle schoolers and high school students.

In addition to mapping out the universe, National Geographic’s Space Atlas also has information about the history of astronomy, the origins of the universe (The Big Bang), and the history of space travel. It makes for an outstanding reference resource for all homeschooling families.

About Space Atlas

• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic; 2 edition (October 23, 2018)

Space Atlas combines updated maps, lavish photographs, and elegant illustrations to chart the solar system, the universe, and beyond. For space enthusiasts, science lovers, and star gazers, here is the newly revised edition of National Geographic’s enduring guide to space, with a new introduction by American hero Buzz Aldrin.

In this guided tour of our planetary neighborhood, the Milky Way and other galaxies, and beyond, detailed maps and fascinating imagery from recent space missions partner with clear, authoritative scientific information. Starting with the sun and moving outward into space, acclaimed science writer and physicist James Trefil illuminates each planet, the most important moons, significant asteroids, and other objects in our solar system. Looking beyond, he explains what we know about the Milky Way and other galaxies–and how we know it, with clear explanations of the basics of astrophysics, including dark matter and gravitational waves. For this new edition, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his moonwalk, astronaut and American hero Buzz Aldrin offers a new special section on Earth’s moon and its essential role in space exploration past and future.

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Resource Review: Visual Atlas of the World

Every household should have an up-to-date-atlas, especially if that household is a homeschooling household. Recently, I received National Geographic’s Visual Atlas of the World to review on this blog. The book is rather large (as an atlas should be) and it comes with a slip box to help keep it looking nice. In addition to containing many maps, the atlas has sections on how to use an atlas and geographical features.

The illustrations and photographs are gorgeous, of course, one expects nothing less when it comes to National Geographic. What really impressed me, however, is that the educational value of this volume goes much deeper than just looking to see where things are. My preschooler poured over the pages while I was flipping through, pointing at different landmarks and asking what they were. It’s going to be an invaluable resource, both as we learn geography and as we learn about history and current events through the years.

About Visual Atlas of the World

• Hardcover: 416 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic; 2 edition (September 19, 2017)

Uniting National Geographic’s incomparable photography with state-of-the-art cartographic technology, this is the most compelling, authoritative, and up-to-the-moment visual atlas on the market.

Reimagined and completely updated for the first time since 2008, National Geographic’s visual atlas of the world will delight and inspire. From spectacular space imagery to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this stunning book showcases the diverse natural and cultural treasures of the world in glorious color. Featuring more than 200 fascinating maps, more than 350 new photos, and state-of-the-art cartography and satellite imagery, this is a must-have reference for families, travelers, students, librarians, and scholars. Each page was created in collaboration with the world’s premier scientists, geographers, and cartographers and is populated with the most up-to-date information available, making this book the most beautiful and authoritative visual atlas available today.

 

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Review: My Big Tree by Maria Ashworth

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of that purchase at no additional cost to you. 

Recently, I received a copy of  My Big Tree by Maria Ashworth to post an unpaid review on this blog. This book is a fun counting story featuring various animals who can be found in a tree. In addition to providing children with a charming story of a bluebird in a tree, the story allows preschoolers the opportunity to practice counting with 1-to-1 correspondence. The picture book also has an authors note that describes some of the characteristics of the animals depicted.

Illustrations

The illustrations in this picture book are simple, but that’s not a bad thing. My four-year-old enjoyed the images as well as the story. I think it’s an important thing for using the book as a preschool math enrichment resource that the animals are all uniform. This makes it easier for children to make the 1-to-1 connections necessary for developing number sense. The illustrations are also colorful, with each of the animal species having its own vivid color distinct from the others.

Enrichment ideas

In addition to asking the child to count along while you read the book, here are some fun ideas to stretch the book into learning and play:

  • Collect some animal figures such as these by Safari, Ltd. and identify a squirrel, bear, owl, bat, mouse, opossum, frog, snake, bee and bird. My local zoo gift shop has a bin where you can select your animals to fill a Toob for a discounted price. Have your child match up the animal figure to the animal in the book.
  • Ask your child to count how many animals all together are on each page. Once you have the two black bears join the blue bird, you could phrase it like this: “There was one bird in the tree, now there are two bears in the tree also. How many animals all together are in the tree?”
  • See if your child can recall the different animal sounds from the animals who join in the tree. Play “who said it?” Make a noise and see if your child can remember who made the noise – or try the reverse – name an animal and ask if your child remembers what sound that animal makes.

What activities would you come up with to have your children do alongside reading this book?