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Welcome to Summer BOOK-TIVITY #3. Education World and share with you fun activities for kids and families -- activities connected to some of the best recent children's books around. Check out Summer BOOK-TIVITIES! for summer projects that will entertain and educate.


Don't miss the other Summer BOOK-TIVITIES:

  • BOOK-TIVITY #1: Photo fun, cooking, sharks, baseball, moving
  • BOOK-TIVITY #2: Family trees, hide-and-seek, museums, information exploration
  • BOOK-TIVITY #3: Lightning, teeth, masks, Mount Rushmore
  • BOOK-TIVITY #4: Crocodiles, "look what came from ...," imagination, do's and don'ts
  • BOOK-TIVITY #5: U.S. states, fossils, snakes, animal carnival
  • BOOK-TIVITY #6: Mount Everest, Mother Goose, the ocean, math

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Lightening Book Cover Franklyn M. Branley is the author of dozens of popular books on scientific topics for young readers. Among his popular titles are The Planets in Our Solar System, Tornado Alert, What Happened to Dinosaurs?, and Floating in Space.

Another big seller -- Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll (HarperCollins) -- has just been reintroduced as part of the Let's Read-and-Find-Out Science series, a series originated by Branley. The new version includes all new illustrations by True Kelley (who also illustrated Branley's Floating in Space).

Written with young readers (ages 5 through 9) in mind, Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll examines the causes of thunderstorms. Branley takes pains to share tips to keep kids safe during storms. And a handful of hands-on experiments that kids can do are included too. For example, Branley instructs kids to blow up a balloon, then pop it, and he provides an explanation:


The air in the balloon expanded rapidly through the break in the skin. You made a tiny bit of thunder. There's only a little air in the balloon, so there's not much noise. Lightning move lots more air -- billions times more -- so there is lots of sound.

One experiment helps kids determine how far away a storm is and another instructs them on making a rain gauge and a cloud.

Booktivity Header GraphicBOOK-TIVITY: Make Lightning!
Share this hands-on activity with kids to help them understand -- on a very small scale -- how the buildup of static electricity in clouds results in lightning:

  • First, each child should cut a small piece of paper into tiny confetti-like bits.
  • Then instruct the child to quickly run a comb many times through his or her dry hair. Soon the comb will be full of static electricity.
  • Now ask the child to hold the comb over the bits of paper. What happens?
  • Ask children what other things they might be able to pick up with their electrified combs. (Try small cereal flakes or gelatin powder.)

Lightning is produced when millions of electrified water droplets and ice crystals are charged with electricity; you could never make that much electricity with your comb! Alternate activity: Rub a balloon on a sweater and hold it over gelatin powder. You might even hear little crackles of thunder!

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Teeth Book CoverOfficer Rate is worried. In all his years on the police force, he has never encountered a case like this one. Someone has stolen Grandpa's teeth, and Grandpa fears that "I may never sthpeak the sthame again!"

Indeed, this is a stherious sthituation!

Rod Clement is a gifted author, illustrator, cartoonist, and humorist -- and Grandpa's Teeth (HarperCollins) will have children -- and adults -- grinning from ear to ear! Wanted posters featuring Grandpa's teeth are pasted up around town. A motley police lineup reveals nothing more than a mostly toothless crew. And reporter Pearl White flashes her pearly whites as she interviews Grandpa for a segment on Unsolved Crimes!

Things have gotten so bad in town that people are afraid to smile, fearing they'll be considered suspects in this most heinous of crimes. Finally, the townspeople come up with a solution. But that isn't the last surprise Clement has in store. Readers must wait until the very last page of Grandpa's Teeth to learn the truth.

Booktivity Header GraphicBOOK-TIVITY: Take Care of Your Teeth!
Grandpa has dentures, but kids today can keep their teeth for a lifetime if they care for them properly. This simple experiment will drive home the importance of tooth care. For the experiment, you'll need to hard-boil a white-shelled egg. Then

  1. Put the egg in a clear glass big enough to hold it.
  2. Pour enough cola in the glass to cover the egg.
  3. Leave the egg in the glass overnight.
  4. The next day remove the egg from the cola-filled glass.
  5. Use an old toothbrush with toothpaste to brush the brown cola stain from the egg.

This simple experiment is a very visual way for kids to see how some foods, especially sugary foods, can leave a harmful residue on their teeth. Though they may not see the film left behind by most foods, it is there, and it can cause tooth decay. As the experiment demonstrates, kids can keep their teeth for a lifetime if they brush regularly.

READ MORE: The Latest Book from Rod Clement!

Museum Book CoverIn Frank's Great Museum Adventure (HarperCollins), traveling in time is not as hard as you think. Every morning is an adventure for Frank the dog and his boy owner. Today, they're on a quest to find some really old stuff, so they go to the museum. There, they learn that primitive men obviously weren't able to make scissors out of their stone tools. The proof is in their horrible haircuts! Frank also marvels at ancient Egyptian mummies, but he wonders what happened to all the daddies!

Similarly silly observations are made as they tour a Roman amphitheater and a castle in the Middle Ages and as they meet the likes of Christopher Columbus and the first astronauts to set foot on the moon. Join Frank on his hilarious museum adventure in this quirky, irreverent look at history by best-selling writer and illustrator Rod Clement!

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Disguise Book CoverAll young readers know Laura Numeroff's popular book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. But have you introduced them yet to Why a Disguise? (Simon & Schuster)

Why a Disguise?, just out in a new paperback edition, is a veritable how-to manual for little ones!

Numeroff wryly explains some of the dos and don'ts of donning a disguise. Disguises, if used properly, can get an individual out of some of life's less pleasant tasks and situations.


A disguise is a very handy thing to have around. Wear it to the dentist's office. Then the nurse won't say, "It's your turn." How can he if he doesn't think you're in the waiting room?

Disguises might also be used to get out of setting the dinner table, avoiding the school bully, and taking a bath!

An added bonus to disguises: They're great fun! After all, it's fun being someone different. But at the end of the day, Numeroff reminds readers: It's nice to know we're still ourselves.

Prolific illustrator David McPhail has created the charming illustrations that accompany Numeroff's humorous text. Together, they've created a book that will inspire laughter and maybe even a trip to the costume shop!

Booktivity Header Graphic BOOK-TIVITY: Mask-Making Fun
It's always fun to make a mask, and there are so many ways to do it. This one might be one of the more messy ways, but it is sure to be one of the most fun!

  1. Blow up a medium-sized round balloon.
  2. Cut newspaper into long narrow (1- to 2-inch) strips.
  3. Make a papier-mch paste made with cup of flour, a large spoonful of salt, and a cup of warm water.
  4. Dip the strips in the paste, and wrap them around the balloon, completely covering it. (Two to three layers would be great!)
  5. Wait for the papier-mch to dry completely. (A week is best.) By that time, the balloon should have deflated.
  6. Cut the papier-mch globe into two equal halves, creating two masks!
  7. Size a mask to the child's face, cutting eye and mouth holes where appropriate.
  8. Punch a hole near each ear so string can be strung through the holes to secure the mask on the child's head. (You might reinforce those holes with masking tape so the string won't rip through the mask.)
  9. Now the masks are ready to paint. Kids might even decorate their masks using yarn, cotton, and other materials.

See what hilarious disguises children can create! Now, what things will they try to avoid?

Noodles Book CoverREAD MORE: Laura Numeroff's Latest Book!

Laura Numeroff's patented humor shines through in her new batch of silly and thoughtful poems, Sometimes I Wonder if Poodles Like Noodles (Simon & Schuster). The title poem, "Sometimes I Wonder," begins:


Sometimes I wonder if poodles like noodles, Do lions use irons, Can chickens read Dickens, Do horses take courses?


Booktivity Header Graphic BOOK-TIVITY: Rhyme-Time!
After reading this rollicking rhyme, challenge your own young poets to model Numeroff's style as they create "Sometimes I Wonder" rhymes of their own.


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Mt. Rushmore Book CoverMount Rushmore is the masterpiece of gifted sculptor Gutzon Borglum. For 17 years (1927 to 1941), Borglum and his team of stone carvers chiseled, drilled, and blasted four gigantic faces in an ancient granite cliff. For stone carvers, the work was dangerous but the pay was good. Skilled carvers earned $1.25 an hour. The total budget for creating Mount Rushmore was under a million dollars.

In Rushmore, author Lynn Curlee relates the monument's historical context and reveals fascinating details about the novel techniques used in its construction. But all did not go smoothly, and Curlee doesn't shrink from the bad news. There were frequent work stoppages, as Borglum waited for additional funding. And controversy surrounded Borglum's choice for the fourth face -- Theodore Roosevelt's -- that would be memorialized in granite.

Complementing the text, Curlee's breathtakingly realistic illustrations capture the grandeur of Borglum's vision and are in themselves a tribute to the nobility of spirit celebrated in Mount Rushmore.

Booktivity Header GraphicBOOK-TIVITY: Find the Presidents!
Click here for a word search puzzle. In this puzzle, find the last names of all the presidents of the United States.

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Caps Book Cover"Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!" calls out the peddler as he walks carefully up and down the streets, balancing a huge pile of caps on his head.

But when the peddler goes out into the country, he unwisely takes a nap, leaning against a tree, with the caps still balanced on his head.

While he is asleep, a band of mischievous monkeys steals every one of his caps, except his own checked cap. When he wakes up, his efforts to get his caps back make this a classic story in the great folktale tradition.

Caps for Sale (HarperCollins), told and illustrated by Esphyr Slobodkina, has everything for young children -- plot, drama, suspense, humor, warmth, and simplicity. Children ask to hear it over and over again. They retell it; they draw it; they act it out.

This is a good book for early readers because it is comic and the interest level is high. There is lots of repetition in the pattern of the writing, the type is large with few lines to a page, and the pictures help carry the reader along.

Return to Education World's Summer Reading Ideas page.


Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor in Chief
Copyright © 1999, 2002 Education World


Last updated 06/23/2017