This November welcome the change of seasons with this cozy little science book: Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayre. This delightful read will engage your students while teaching them all about squirrels! It includes simple text with a poetic flow that covers different types of squirrels, where they live, what they eat, things they do, and how they use their bodies to survive. The book concludes with a nifty reference section filled with facts and information. A bonus for you and your class!
Did you know that squirrels are picky eaters?
Did you know that squirrels are picky when it comes to which acorns they will eat? Your class will learn that they don’t just automatically eat every acorn they find! They use the scientific process to inspect every acorn and save the fresh ones to eat (or bury for a snack later). This leads to a fun activity to do with your class: identifying, sorting and classifying different types of acorns! Have your students sort out rotten acorns from the fresh acorns. If it’s too hard to decipher rotten versus fresh, try sorting by color or size! The possibilities are endless and you can tailor this to the needs and levels of your students. (Don’t have acorns? Any small materials can magically turn into “acorns.” Use beans from your sensory play bin, counting cubes, felt balls, you name it!)
If acorns aren’t your thing or readily available, you can teach about squirrels and their homes. All you need are leaves! With this book, you can teach your students about squirrel nests and then have them build their own by using leaves they’ve collected from outside. Extend this lesson (and add a little excitement) by testing each nest to see which one can hold the most weight! As they build and test, ask you students, “Is it strong enough to hold a squirrel?” Let them research to find the weights of different squirrels.
Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep also teaches you that squirrels use many tools. (This is a great opportunity to incorporate a lesson on tools in science!) One tool squirrels use are their sharp teeth for breaking open acorns and seeds (you’ll learn this one feature that makes them a part of the rodent family). Provide your students with multiple tools to crack open acorns or other nuts just like the squirrels do. Nutcrackers, hammers, or even their shoes will work!
How does a squirrel use its tail for a tool?
- They use these furry tools for balance and also to communicate with other squirrels! Have your students hold objects to help them balance across a beam or “branch” in your classroom and then create a chart showing how tools are helpful for both squirrels and humans! You can even find a line on your classroom floor if you don’t have access to a balance beam.
- Did you know squirrels use their tails to communicate with one another? Develop your own “squirrel” language in your class by using your arms and hands! Wave your hands up to signal “yes” and hands down to say “no.” Have your students ask each other questions and answer in “squirrel language.” Even better, hide some acorn “treasures” around the classroom and have your class ask you “yes or no” questions to find it. The trick is… you can only answer in squirrel language! Too much fun!
There are many activities inspired by this book that you can do in your classroom with materials you already have! The easiest includes nothing but thinking caps! Teach the principles of the scientific process by having students observe the world around them. Go on a hunt for acorns or look for squirrel’s nests in the trees around the school. This book is a great way to incorporate reading and science in the month November. Your class is sure to love it! Check out this post for STEM Activities about homes for people.
Are you looking for a December activity? Check out Candy Canes Dissolving!
See you soon!