written by Catherine Ham
2012 (Early Light)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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Which home would you use
If you had to choose?
A hole in a tree
Or one deep in the ground?
A reef in the sea?
Or a tall termite mound?
Step Inside! is a poetic look at animal habitats. Over twenty different homes are featured. Inside each poem is a plethora of information. For example, students will learn that trapdoor spiders live inside a burrow and spin webs not to catch animals, but instead use the silk to build a hinge that opens the door. The door is hidden by bits of plant and soil. The spider pops out of the door like a jack-in-the-box and captures its surprised prey. This poem contains vocabulary (burrow, crafty, hinge) that can be connected to other areas. You can ask questions like "What other animals might live in a burrow?" or "Where have you seen a hinge before?". I like the variety of species featured in Step Inside! as well. You get animals from fresh and salt water. There are animals that live in trees and those that dig their homes in the ground. Animals as large as an elephant and as small as a wasp are presented. This provides the opportunity for students to categorize the information, which is a vital skill for young scientists. This is also a strength of Ham's sister book, Open Wide!.
As we approach the Common Core standards era, with its emphasis on nonfiction text, teachers need books that can be used for cross curricular purposes. Books like Step Inside! that combine poetry and science will be important resources.