Thursday, April 21, 2011

Picture Book (Science): Habitat Spy (by Cynthia Kieber-King)

Summary of Habitat Spy:  
This tour begins in a backyard on the East Coast and journeys to 13 different habitats until reaching the Pacific Ocean.  Children will explore other diverse places, such as meadow, pond, forest, river, swamp, cave, bog, plains, mountains, desert, and beach.  The text on each page follows the same format—a short rhyming invitation to discover a new, exciting place.  Here are a couple samples: 

Let’s spy in the cave…
algae spread,
spiders knit,
swallows nest,
bats flit.

Let’s spy in the desert…
saguaros prick,
scorpions sneak,
cactus wrens poke,
foxes peek.

Cynthia Kieber-King’s text identifies only a few of the incredible plants, animals, and insects on the 2-page spread, allowing for the readers to discover many on their own.  (The Sylvan Dell’s Teacher Guide for the book provides a master list.)  All the habitats are fluttering and swimming with life.  In the bog, a turtle emerges from the water and a duck forages for food while on the plains bison are grazing and butterflies are flitting.   Each time through the book, readers (and observers) will find new things to discover and to discuss.

Christina Wald has done a remarkable job replicating the incredible plants and creatures in their native environments. The picturesque illustrations draw readers into each habitat where they can count and identify the living things.  Young children can practice sorting animals into categories, such as those with fur or with feathers and ones that fly or crawl.  Habitat Spy, along with the teaching guide, offers opportunities to teach older students about invertebrates and vertebrates (reptiles, birds, mammals, fish, and amphibians).  The pleasurable text is primarily made up of nouns and verbs.  Children can learn about these parts of speech and create their own text following the format provided (as seen in book samples above).  Use the book as a spring board to begin to observe and to record observations in outdoor places.  Take a journal to a park, a lake, or a wooded area.  Talk, draw, and write about your surroundings.  Habitat Spy is an outstanding introduction into the study of habitats.  It is sure to take inquisitiveness and learning to new heights. 

For more excellent teaching opportunities, check out the teaching guide and book’s page at the Sylvan Dell website. 


  1. What beautiful pictures. We soo love books.

  2. Gorgeous simply gorgeous pics


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