Animal Life

Handbook of Nature Study

Book cover: 'Handbook of Nature Study'
Anna Botsford Comstock

This is a very informative handbook on a large portion of nature, originally written for elementary school teachers. It covers wildlife, insects, farm animals, birds, fish, trees, flowers, weeds, vegetables, rocks, minerals, soil, climate, weather, magnets, the sun, moon, planets of our solar system and much more. According to the 1986 foreword, most of the living things described are common in the northeastern states of the U.S. but it covers a lot of material that would be helpful in other parts of the country as well.

Wild Animals Coloring Book

Book cover: 'Wild Animals Coloring Book'
John Green

A very nice, detailed and academic-oriented coloring book for learning about wild animals. In addition to beautiful drawings of each animal, the text provides common and scientific names and details about appearance, location, habits, size, etc. The index covers common and scientific names as well. Illustrations are copyright free (within certain conditions) and may be copied for use within your family.

Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs

Book cover: 'Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs'
Patricia Lauber

This book explores the notion of various plants and animals that are linked together based on "who eats what." Children will learn about some simple food chains such as - leaf, caterpillar, wren and hawk. They also see how one plant or animal can belong to several food chains and that members or these related food chains (food webs) have a certain amount of dependence on each other. The text goes on to explain, through an example of a problem with over-hunted otters around the turn of the century, that when part of a food chain is disturbed, the other members will also be affected.

Egg: A Photographic Story of Hatching

Book cover: 'Egg: A Photographic Story of Hatching'
Robert Burton

When you think of eggs hatching, do you tend to think of birds and chicks? Think again! Reptiles, fish and insects can hatch from eggs as well. This book provides the photo stories of the hatching of 27 different animals including Ostrich, Moorhen, Japanese Quail, Starling, Leopard Tortoise, Cornsnake, Leopard Gecko, Ladybug, Common Frog, Great Crested Newt, Goldfish and Kerry Slug. Each hatching includes numerous photos with detailed descriptions of the process and how long it takes. A final photo generally shows the creature a day or two later.

Dead Log Alive!

Book cover: 'Dead Log Alive!'
Jo S. Kittinger

This book provides an interesting and detailed look at what comes to live in and around a dead log - woodpeckers, squirrels, mushrooms, fungi, moss, molds, porcupines, foxes, snakes, scorpions, millipedes, centipedes, pill bugs, salamanders, ants, termites, and beetles. Includes many interesting color photos and details about each species, how to tell them apart and much more. The book also includes an index, a glossary and suggestions for further reading.

Animals in Winter

Book cover: 'Animals in Winter'
Henrietta Bancroft
Richard Van Gelder

A beautifully illustrated look at where various animals go when it snows and how they prepare for winter. We learn details of the migration of various animals (such as birds, butterflies and bats), animals that hibernate, animals that store up food for the winter and animals that have to find their food throughout the winter. Includes instructions for feeding birds and other wild animals in your own backyard.

Animal Tracks

Book cover: 'Animal Tracks'
Arthur Dorros
Arthur Dorros

One of the things that fascinates me most about Wisconsin winters (I grew up in California) are the animal tracks clearly visible in the snow. It leaves a temporary record of what was visiting while you weren't looking - what a fascinating thing for homeschoolers to look into. Animal Tracks will make a nice resource for younger students to study local wildlife. This is an illustrated narrative of animal life with a little guessing game on each page based on the tracks left by each animal.

What Lives in a Shell?

Book cover: 'What Lives in a Shell?'
Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

This beautifully illustrated book, designed for preschool and kindergarten, explains different kinds of shells and the creatures that inhabit them. The shells are compared to the shelter occupied by people and by other animals. We learn that some shells do grow larger along with certain animals while other animals must shed their out-grown shell in favor of a new one. Many shells are beautifully depicted and identified and the story-format of the text is very easy and interesting for young children to follow.

Biology for Every Kid

Janice Van Cleave

In it's segment on "Experiments that Teach Us About Ourselves: The Amazing Human Body" this book provides 35 experiments about the body (the other segments of the book are about plant and animal life. While certainly not a comprehensive anatomy course, the book does provide interesting and simple experiments (which can easily performed at home with fairly ordinary materials) that would provide a helpful supplement to the study of anatomy.

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