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February’s Best Books

by Stem_ED

This short month brought me so many new books to try and provide book reviews. Some were just awful. In fact, I stopped reading one book after half a page. I stopped another book after the first chapter. I just do not have time for silly, frivolous yucky books. But I did find some new favorites.

These are the best books I read in February!

Reviews of the best books I read in February 2021- includes the worst book of the month.

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!

Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen

Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen- an autobiographical account of this amazing author's early childhood. Haunting and sad, but ultimately triumphant as he became a write so many young people love.

This is one of those books I will always remember. This is an author I already love and will read anything he writes.

My favorite books of Mr. Paulsen’s include Hatchet and My Life in Dog Years. The latter was a book I always read aloud to my third graders.

Gone to the Woods is Mr. Paulsen’s account of his early childhood from the age of five until he joined the armed forces. The book is gritty and real as he tells about his mother’s lack of care for him. When he was five he was sent to the wilderness to live with relatives Edy and Sig. The couple lived off the land and soon had Gary doing “work jobs” most of which he’d never heard of. He watched and listened and learned.

One passage was hauntingly beautiful as young Gary made his first foray into deep woods in a canoe with Sig whispering, “See, look, see…”

“And there it was – the moment- the very split second, of all the minutes of all the time the boy would ever have, that would never cease to exist. The moment- though he would not know it or understand it fully until he was an older man- when he would never again be able to, nor want to, separate himself from nature….the moment was so pure, so profound, that he caught himself holding his breath.”

And here is the absolute best part. As a teen Mr. Paulsen had no adult supervision. How did he survive? Well, you will need to grab this book to find out, but I will tell you his life was changed forever by a librarian.

Five stars for this book! It was beautiful and I was sad to finish it.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Book Review - The Midnight Library - Nora takes a drastic measure and instead of dying straight away, she finds herself awakening in a large library. The librarian greets her with an explanation of where she has arrived.

For many reasons Nora is depressed. She did not pursue a career that involved singing in a band due to panic attacks. Her cat is run over. She has lost her job. An elderly neighbor says she no longer is needed to help him with shopping.

No one needs her.

“She wanted to have a purpose, something to give her a reason to exist.”

Nora takes a drastic measure and instead of dying straight away, she finds herself awakening in a large library. The librarian greets her with an explanation of where she has arrived.

“Between life and death, there is a library. And within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived.”

So, what does Nora do? She chooses a book. What would you do?

This science-fiction book dives right into the opportunities missed as we make choices during our lifetimes. “You have as many lives as possibilities. There are lives where you make different choices.”

I cannot reveal much more without giving away the gist of this book. I cheered for Nora as she tackled this diversion head-on. I wanted her to be happy and find a joy-filled place where she was needed. “Maybe there was no perfect life for her, but somewhere, surely, there was a life worth living.”

I loved, loved this book. It was very different and without being melodramatic, it was encouraging and hopeful. It is a tad unbelievable and yet, the author pulls it off. Five stars for this book! I suspect it will be on my top ten best books at the end of this year!

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

Book Review -Ruth is a young black woman that followed a dream to attend Yale and work as an engineer. She is married to Xavier and seems to be doing very, very well.

Ruth is a young black woman that followed a dream to attend Yale and work as an engineer. She is married to Xavier and seems to be doing very, very well.

On the day Obama wins his first presidential bid, all is right with Ruth’s world.

Or is it? Xavier pressures her to start a family and she is forced to tell him about something that happened to her when she was 17. This confession changes everything. Ruth goes home, to a small Indiana town, where she was raised by her grandparents.

Some back story: Ruth’s mom disappeared when she was very young and with her brother, Eli, she moved in with her grandparents. Mama and Papa sacrificed for years to provide the children with what was needed, despite living in poverty. How they were able to send Ruth to a private school and later to college is part of the story.

Returning home for the first time in several years Ruth confronts her past. The secrets whirl around her and her brother, her grandmother and long-ago friends.

“A lifetime of lies never added up to anything good. A lifetime of doing the wrong things for the right reasons. A lifetime of lies that started small, like a nick in the windshield, then eventually shattered the glass.”

Well written, beautiful passages, and characters you will love. Definitely 5 stars for this book.

Honorable Mention

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E Schwab

In the 1700s Addie is being forced to marry. In desperation, Addie makes a bargain with a dark being she calls Luc. She will live forever but no one will remember her.

Her journey through time is interesting. She cannot own anything, cannot have a place to live, can’t earn money, can’t find love. Because no one remembers her after meeting her. The premise of the book is a little odd and alternates with her backstory and present-day. I have it as one of my favorite books this month because I listened to it. The narrator, Julia Whalen, is magnificent and that made the story compelling. I give it 5 stars as an Audible book!

One by One by Ruth Ware

My least favorite of the month…

Book Review -One by One is the story of a social media company that has a vacation/meeting for their employees. They are in a ski resort in the Alps and staying in a chalet that can only be reached by tram. The meeting part of the vacation is to discuss a potential buyout of the company and the shareholders stand to make millions.

This author had me as a fan – with a book called The Woman in Cabin 10.

So, I had high hopes for this one. The good: I did finish it.

The not-so-good: it was a tad boring and hugely unbelievable.

Now, I completely understand that I just wrote two book reviews about books that were also unbelievable, but the thing about believability is the way a book is written. If you have read any Harry Potter books you know exactly what I mean.

One by One is the story of a social media company that has a vacation/meeting for their employees. They are in a ski resort in the Alps and staying in a chalet that can only be reached by tram. The meeting part of the vacation is to discuss a potential buyout of the company and the shareholders stand to make millions. The trouble is a tricky 2% of shares are owned by Liz and her vote will determine if the buyout proceeds.

Then someone is missing and presumed dead. An avalanche happens, the power goes out. And somewhere in the middle of all this, there is a wild scene where some of them decide to try to ski down the mountain. In the dark. After an avalanche. On trails they are not familiar with. With cliff sides that drop thousands of feet into nothingness.

Seriously. Skiing is hard enough in the daytime. Night skiing without lights when someone is chasing you… no.

I finished this book because I wanted to see who was possibly killing people off but I can only give it 2 stars.

I hope you enjoyed the reviews! Click on any of the images to see more details about the books! Keep on reading.

Try these Reviews, too!

My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.

Book Reviews of the best books I read in February 2021- includes the worst book of the month.

The post February’s Best Books appeared first on Teachers are Terrific.

Rain Cloud in a Jar

by Stem_ED

Making a rain cloud in a jar is a fun and easy way to teach children how it rains.  Kids will love the magical wow factor and YOU’LL love the easy prep!

Check out the simple step-by-step below and then join The Plato Pack so you can access DOZENS more jaw dropping (but easy prep!) science experiments kids will love.

Getting Ready

To make our rain cloud in a jar, we gathered a few simple items:

  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • A clear jar
  • Shaving cream
  • Plastic pipettes

First, we mixed a few drops of food coloring into some water and set it aside. This served as our “rain.”

My preschooler loved making rain so much that we ended up repeating this activity several times with blue, yellow, purple, red and green food coloring.

I filled our glass jar about 3/4 of the way full with cool water.

Once we made a fluffy “cloud” on top of the water using shaving cream, we were ready to get to the fun part: making it rain!

Rain Cloud in a Jar

I instructed my preschooler to suck up some of the colored water into her pipette and then gently squirt it on top of our shaving cream cloud. She quickly became a pro.

As she squirted more and more water onto the shaving cream, our cloud became heavier and heavier.

Within a few minutes, the first drops of colored rain made their way through the cloud and dropped into the water underneath.

There were cheers of excitement and lots of jumping up and down as we watched the colored water drop down through the clouds!

We continued to saturate the shaving cream clouds with water until they started to deflate and melt down the side of the jar.

My daughter had so much fun, we rinsed out the jar and started all over again with a new rain color!  We had a blast making differently colored rain clouds in a jar.

The Science Behind It

Clouds are formed when water vapor rises into the air and condenses onto tiny particles of dust. When billions of these droplets come together, a visible cloud forms.

Over time, the droplets and crystals that make up a cloud can attract more water to themselves.

When water droplets grow heavy enough, gravity pulls them down as raindrops.

Making a rain cloud in a jar is obviously a simplistic model of how it actually rains, but it gives young children a hands-on visual that is extremely valuable to their learning. Plus, it’s fun!

More Fun for Little Scientists

Save time piecing together science lessons! Hop over and join The Plato Pack so you can download DOZENS more easy-prep science experiments and science units in one spot.

30-jaw-dropping-science-experiments

The post Rain Cloud in a Jar appeared first on The Stem Laboratory.

Hundreds Chart Missing Numbers Cards

by Stem_ED

There are so many things that can be learned with a hundreds chart! They are a fabulous tool for learning counting, skip counting, problem solving and more.

These hundreds chart missing numbers challenge cards are a fun addition to your math lesson or activity plans. They’re are sure to give young mathematicians a brain exercise!

Getting Ready

To prepare the cards, I printed them out and laminated them. You may want to print on cardstock to keep them sturdy if you are using them in a classroom setting.

Then, I cut apart the cards on the solid black lines so that I had all 16 cards ready to go. After adding in some dry erase markers and kid socks for erasers (they work great and double as storage for the marker), these fun cards were ready to be added to our math center!

hundred chart missing numbers write and wipe 1

Hundreds Chart Missing Numbers Cards

Learning to visualize where numbers are on a hundreds chart is really helpful for kids. It can help them solve math problems and develop a strong understanding of how numbers relate to one another.

These missing numbers cards get kids thinking about patterns in numbers and provide the challenge of figuring out the puzzle when given only one number.

I played this game with a small group of kids who were ready. We kept a full hundreds chart next to us to check our work or for support if we needed it. (You can grab a free hundreds chart here.)

Our first card only had the number 5 on it. We knew the number below 5 would be 15, because we count by10’s when we go down the hundreds chart.

We then figured out that next to 15 would come 16 and 17.

Finally, the number above 17 would be 7, because we would go back 10. See how it gives us a great challenge for our brain?

hundred chart missing numbers write and wipe 2

We kept grabbing cards and thinking through the puzzles until they were complete.

Cleaning up was a cinch! We just wiped the cards clean and they were ready for another day!

Grab Your Download

Ready to give the hundreds chart missing numbers cards a try for yourself? Grab your copy by clicking the button below and then hop over and check out 15 more hundred chart activities we love!

15 brilliant ways to use a hundred chart. Lots of great math games teaching the numbers 1-120.

The post Hundreds Chart Missing Numbers Cards appeared first on The Stem Laboratory.