Thursday, December 8, 2011

STEM Friday: Ugly Animals

Ugly Animals
written by Gilda and Melvin Berger
2011 (Scholastic)
Source: Orange County Public Library

Check out STEM Friday at Wrapped In Foil

Gilda and Melvin Berger are not engaging in name calling. Instead, they are bringing attention to some unusual animals whose decidedly unattractive features are actually quite useful. In past times, the mop-like fur of the sheep herding komondor dog kept it safe from attacking wolves and bears. The lack of fur on a naked mole rat allows it to move more easily through tunnels. Male proboscis monkeys have exceedingly large noses, but apparently these are a big hit with the female of the species and the deepness of the "honk" produced by this super snout warns other monkeys of impending danger. Several other unique animals are featured in this easy reader. The red-lipped batfish is almost too strange to be believed and the ruby red lips may not be the weirdest thing. This is a fish that walks, with its fins, on the bottom of the sea since it is not a very good swimmer. A fish that can barely swim? These are the kind of unusual facts that make Ugly Animals a fun read.

Since many of the animal features are useful in fending off predators, this text would be a good resource in teaching cause and effect lessons. Kindergarten and 1st grade students would also enjoy creating a circle map involving one of these critters. Another possible lesson would be to talk about how these animals are quite effective regardless of how we might view their looks. That's a good life lesson for kids beginning to worry about how they look. Older struggling readers can read this book and not worry about carrying around a book that "looks younger". With the wide-eyed aye aye on the cover, nobody is going to think about the reading level when they see Ugly Animals.

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