Monday, November 2, 2015

Under the Snow: A Book Review

I am always on the lookout for good books about animals in winter, as it's a favorite topic to teach about! I found Under the Snow at our local library in Bristol. Please don't check it out in December-February, because I think I will need it! :-)

I've read several other books on the topic that have potential; however, they often fall short. This book delivered in important elements for me!

Under the Snow uses simple text and detailed pictures to show life under the still blanket of snow. While we are on top of the snow hiking, snowshoeing, sledding, and skating, there is so much more going on beneath the surface. The book explores a variety of reptiles, insects, amphibians, and mammals, showing how they cope with the cold. No words like torpor or hibernation are used in the book; however, scientific principles are introduced as we look at the slowing of the heartbeat, cooler body temps, and being able to freeze solid. Additionally, a variety of habitats are represented, showing us life in a burrow, under a pond, in a wetland, and along a fencerow.

The book mentions the following animals:
  • ladybugs
  • snakes
  • voles--tunnels and strips bark off the bottom of a tree to eat
  • chipmunk--sleeps a few days at a time, snacks on stored seeds and nuts in its burrow
  • mourning clock butterfly--takes cover in a pile of brush
  • centipede and bumblebee queen--in a rotting log
  • wood frog--in leaves in the first, freezes solid
  • wooly bear caterpillar--tight ball in leaves
  • spotted salamander--just under the ground
  • boatman and bluegills--move slowly in the water
  • water striders and carp--rest quietly at the bottom
  • frog and turtle--buried in mud, never move, barely breathe
  • beaver--huddle together, swim to cache of food for sticks
  • red-spotted newts--move just beneath the ice
Eventually, the snow starts melting and it's spring time. 

Under the Snow will be a nice addition to programs on animals in winter or what is going on under the ground. I would most likely have a sensory experience to go with this--mud, leaves, water, rocks, etc., along with play animals and/or laminated pictures of the animals to show what they do during the winter. I would even consider having the children act out what the different animals are doing in winter, putting each animal on a paint stick for a puppet. When I pull an animal up, they show me how the animal survives winter.

This activity sheet is for another book, Over and Under the Snow (another good one!), but has many questions, activities, and resources that may be helpful. 
Here is a guide aimed at first grade. I like that it links to a reader's theater! I miss that age group! also always has some good suggestions and links, too. 

Here are programs I've done with animals and/or animals in winter:
Nature Related Christmas Books (most have animals, though not all are realistic)

If you live locally, you might check out my Winter Guide for ideas for the humans to enjoy winter!

If you're looking for animals, I'll link to Under the Snow and some animals below. The toobs are just fine, but I do prefer the Safari Incredible Creatures line. I know I'll use these a lot, so don't mind spending the extra money on them. Schleich, Papo, and Terra (Target) are pretty good lines, too. This post may contain affiliate links. And, seriously, is there no love for the woodchuck? No plastic toys patterned after him? I found some plush woodchucks, but it's not as easy to sleep in an underground burrow like that.