Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Nook: Bubbles! Bubbles


Summer is at its height, but school is just around the corner.  How can you embrace the ethereal joys of summertime and the edifying tasks of school-time all while attending to SPD needs?  Perhaps by grabbing your SPD Lenses and taking a look at a common thing with new vision.
Today’s challenge:  How can bubbles – and inspiration from them – offer sensory fun and a few lesson ideas as well?

To help you focus on each of the seven senses while meeting this challenge, check out my post about Wearing SPD Lenses: 7 Sense-ational Ways to Use Bubbles! at OJTA Sensational Homeschooling (which is now Special-ism).

And, if you want to tie in some reading and experiments, check out these books:

* * * * *  The Bubble Factory by Tomie dePaolo 
 Mama’s Take:
If I were to select one non-fiction book to use as past of a bubble study unit for young children, it would be The Bubble Factory by Tomie dePaolo. True to most of dePaolo’s books, this book is a delight – a simple story that engages children, but also offers plenty of inspiration for extensions.

The story is a basic one: A set of mischievous twins accompany their grandfather to a bubble factory. When left alone there for a moment, they slip away and get into a bit of trouble – creating the most amazing, imaginative bubbles!

So, how can this story inspire learning, discussion and further study? Well, on the first two pages, a set of illustrations depict some of the trouble the twins get into and how their grandfather helps them out. Problem solving discussion can ensue…

The next page depicts wands with “double bubbles”, which just begs for experimentation with blowing single, double and groups of bubbles with different types of wands.

The pages depicting the imaginary bubble factory tour inspire invention and experimentation of one’s own – with examples of different mixtures, tests and note-taking, observation, etc.

The illustration of the children’s bubble mix creations – with all sorts of colorful, imaginary bubble shapes, inspires creative writing and drawing. An easy starter: “what would your WISH BUBBLES look like?”

And, finally, the closing page of the book shows a memo from Mr. B, the factory owner, to the twins. A great start to a Memo and letter writing lesson!

A fun plotline, rich in learning possibilities, I just love the potential that can be unleashed by The Bubble Factory!

Kiddos’ Take
Oh, what fun my children had reading this book over and over – and paging through the story to “read” on their own. With each reading, they seemed to find more in the illustrations and story. And, their imaginations bloomed. My son declared he wanted to make his own bubble factory (and often did so, “just pretend”, when building constructions with various toys.) And, both kids identified with the twins, “because they are so curious”. The love this story!

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* * * *  Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar

Mama’s Take:
When I first started reading this book to the kids, I was not too enamored with it. For while it has wonderful rhythm – with both internal and end-rhymes – and a rich vocabulary, it almost seemed like too much nonsense to me. Sister Mabel blows a bubble which swallows baby and, thus, begins an adventure. The baby in the bubble floats through the neighbors’ yard, above streets, through town and right up beyond the church steeple, with an increasing crowd of folks chasing after it. At the church, much to my dismay, a character named Abel, “clambered up the steeple with nefarious intentions and a pebble in a sling” only to shoot the bubble, thus worrying the entire crowd of people that there’d be a baby “who’s a goner”. Indeed, nonsense and ill behavior and scary ideas that I don’t need my children thinking about!

But, think they did – and not about Abel and the nonsense. Simply about the fun of the book. Thus, I found myself reading the book over a number of times upon request, and, the more I did, the more it grew on me.

Truly, Bubble Trouble is an exuberant, rhyming, tongue twister of a story with rich vocabulary and a playful (albeit unbelievable and, sometimes less appropriate for the impressionable) plot. The water-color and paper-cut illustrations are lively. They capture the excitement of the chase after baby-in-a-bubble, and mirror the text, which literally swirls up and down on some pages as the story follows the bibble-bobble path of the baby in the bubble.

A seemingly nonsensical book filled with tongue twisting language and less-than-thrilling behavior by one character, this book became an acquired taste for me. In the end, I found it delicious as a delightfully fun read-aloud that truly gets to the heart of playful use of language when read aloud. And – bonus – since the author is from New Zealand, there is a Kiwi flair to the language used, so it could open doors into culture study as well as language (and it is rich in language!), art (inspiring mixed medium exploration) and even math (with sequencing as each member of town joins the chase!)

Kiddos’ Take:
My children not only delighted in having this book read – and re-read and read yet again…and again…and again. – to them without tiring of it. They also often took the book to a quiet spot to “read” to themselves, following the pictures and coming up with stories that were a mish mash of the rhythmic tongue twister language of the true text of the book and their own playful plot lines. Indeed, both of my kids loved this book, were inspired by it and asked for it time and time again.

I had to hide it in a bag in order to return it to our local library and, even then, they asked where it was,. Out of sight was not out of mind with Bubble trouble. It may be one I have to purchase at some point!

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* * * * *  The Unbelievable Bubble Book by John Cassidy

Mama’s Take:
Since we borrowed The Unbelievable Bubble Book, we could not take advantage of the “Bubble Thing” that comes with it, which I hear is absolutely fantastic for young and old alike! We did, however, enjoy the book, which is targeted at children but fun for all.

Replete with facts, The Unbelievable Bubble Book is a complete read for those who want to explore bubble history, science, experiments… just about any aspect of bubbles. Laced with humor and peppered with pictures, it is also an easy, enjoyable read. Truly, if I had but one book about bubble experiments, history and science to offer my children, I think this one would be it. Both full of sound learning and silly fun, it promises to keep kids (and kids at heart) engaged and exploring for hours on end!

And, bonus, the book is a great one for inspiring inventive thought! David Stein, inventor of the Bubble Thing, tells his personal story in the book – an inspiration to many about how trial-and-error, with an eye for improvement and a heart for fun – can really pay off!

Kiddos’ Take:
My children were enamored with the photo of the boy in the midst of a massive bubble on the front cover of this book. (So much so, in fact, that I am going to have to purchase a copy of the book and Bubble Thing at some point, I know!) And, although the book is aimed at much older children than they are, they enjoyed paging through the book as well. Almost every page of the book contains a black-and-white (albeit 70’s-esque) photo, a diagram or a comic-like graphic as well as text. These got my kids asking questions and wanting to know more… I can definitely see this becoming a book we go back to time and time again for fun and learning.

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* * * *  The Ultimate Bubble Book, Soapy Science Fun by Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone

Mama's Take:
Although this book is aimed at children aged 9-12, as a self-directed book for exploring math and science concepts through fun experimentation with bubbles, I recently borrowed it from the library as a resource for bubble exploration with my pre-schoolers. Because 9 to `12 year olds are the main audience of the boo, it is set up in a format that makes it easy to navigate for a multi-tasking mom. Likewise, it also has all the “parts” of a good non-fiction, resource book necessary for older elementary school children to use it on their own – contents, a glossary, an index, a note to parents and teachers, chapters on clean up, safety, do’s and don’t, bubble solutions, techniques and tools and even a easy to identify notation about the difficulty of each activity.

Blowing bubbles with your bare hands, watching bubble “swallow” one another, blowing bubbles in your milk in the name of experimentation, proving bubbles don’t like heat, discovering why soda fizzles, even making bubble candy… The book offers both easy and difficult experiment, with clear directions and formatting that appeals to kids. To be honest, we didn’t end up being able to try many of these due to life circumstances during our loan period, but we are eager to try them when we get the book out again.

Fun and engaging, this book could truly be the basis of a fun bubble unit!

Kiddos’ Take:
Although, as mentioned, we did not get to give the experiments in the book a fair go, Luke and Nina enjoyed paging through the book, looking at it’s appealing illustrations, asking questions about different ones and requesting we try certain experiments when we could.

As such, I will definitely borrow this book again!

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* * * *   The Nature and Science of Bubbles by Jane Burton and Kim Taylor

Mama’s Take:
Half-way between a text book and simply an informative, well-illustrated (with photographs) resource book, The Nature and Science of Bubbles can help young readers – or parents of preschoolers who know little behind the science of bubbles – to expand their knowledge of the natural world through exploring how bubbles appear in air, water, rock, metal, glass and ice. Beginning with the basic question of, “Why are bubbles round?” and progressing through more ways that bubbles appear in nature than I ever thought of – and all while explaining the why and how behind these ways, the book connects bubbles to our world in ways far deeper than simply watching them dance in the wind after blowing them out of a wand. Then, it closes with just two pages of activities, a glossary, a list of further resources and an index. Thus, it makes a worthy resource for depending bubble study beyond simply experimenting with bubble mix into nature study and observations.

Kiddos’ Take:
This book is way beyond the kids level and yet they asked me to read pages of it to them and remained interested while I did. They also enjoyed the real-life photographs of bubbles in water, out of water, in ice, around creatures, etc.

As the children get older, we will look to take this book out again as a resource for bubble and nature study, but I doubt we would purchase it. That being said, if I were a school librarian or science teacher, I might consider purchasing it.

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* * * *  Bubble Trouble (My First Hello Reader) by Mary Packard

Mama’s Take:
Bubble Trouble is an early reader with simple rhyming text and cute illustrations. It follows a young child who makes bubbles with bubble mix, shampoo, bubble gum, dish soap and a straw and drink, as well as by while washing his dog, washing the car and – oops! – putting too much laundry soap in the machine.

As an early reader, it works well as it is realistic, yet fun, with easy text, appealing illustrations and built in extension activities. The extensions include 32 punch-out flash cards and six pages of activities that include focus on rhymes, plot predictions, decoding words and the concept of big-bigger and biggest.

Kiddos’ Take:
The kids enjoyed watching the first-person character explore bubbles in so many ways throughout a single day and asked to repeat some of his antics on their own – which, at times, received a big “Yes, let’s try it!” while at other times was met with a “No, that would be bubble trouble!” With this in mind, I caution anyone who has monkey-see, monkey-do exploring children. While fun, this book might lead to an extra tiny home disaster or two!

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* * * *  Experiments with Bubbles by Robert Gardner

Mama’s Take:
We did not get to dive as deeply into Experiments with Bubbles as I had hoped we would. However, this was not due to any problem with the book. (But, rather with constraints of our own lives during the period we had the book out on loan.) That being said, I can definitely see us revisiting the book, first, with Mama as a researcher for lesson and exploration ideas, and, later, with the kids using the book to conduct their own experiments.

A straightforward guide to bubble experiments that takes one from simple ways to make bubbles to the science of bubbles to just plain having fun, the book offers dozens of clearly written experiments to try. Chemistry, motion, light, color and geometry are all explored. And, some puzzlers and surprises are thrown in, too. Launching giant bubbles, moving bubble s with electricity, making bubble pyramids… Through such engaging endeavors, readers of Experiments with Bubbles can gain hand-on, first-hand knowledge of scientific principles, understanding complex ideas through simple bubble fun.

Kiddos’ Take:
The kids had little opinion about this book. Why? Because with very few illustrations and relatively dry text, the book was hardly engaging for my pre-kindergarteners to page through, and, as I mentioned, we didn’t get to doing experiments from it. That being said, I think the kids would love to do some of them at some future point and will likely revisit this book with them in the future.

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* * *   Bubble Bubble by Mercer Mayer
Mama’s Take:
Bubble, Bubble by Mercer Mayer is a cute, first person, fantasy story about a young boy who buys some magic bubbles and then blows them everywhere – creating bubbles-creatures and things of all shapes and sizes. (Bubble boats, cars, various animals, etc. are all fun for children to find in the illustrations!) Then, suddenly, one bubble becomes a dangerous snake. To combat it, the boy blows another bubble, which begins a seriesw of predator-prey type bubbles until the boy simply decides to start popping all the bubbles, tires of them and blows the rest of his mix home, staing there is no such thng as magic bubbles anyways – just as a bubble dragon peeps up behind him from the puddle of his spilled bubble mix.

With just enough detail in the illustrations to keep kids enthralled, a simple storyline and some repetition, as well as a big dose of imagination, this book is one I would read my kids again. It is also one that lends itself easily to creative storytelling through its illustrations alone as well as sequencing activities and imaginative drawing extensions.

Kiddo’s Take:
Overall, my kids enjoyed this book and asked me to read it a number of times. They got very excited by the pictures of the bubble creatures and things, especially during the predator-prey sequence, but didn’t like when the boy popped his bubbles and made me skip that page.

Once the book went back to the library, they did not ask after it. All things considered, for us, this is
“borrow, not buy” type of book – one I can see us borrowing from the library again.

What are some of your favorite bubble books and resources?  Do share in a comment!

1 comment:

Mom 'n' More said...

My daughters love it when I fill the water table with bubbles. They love scopping them into buckets, making mountains with them ... and hiding small toys inside them!

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