Written By: Jon Scieszka
Illustrated By: Lane Smith
In Science Verse, Mr. Newton tells his students that, "If you listen closely enough, you can hear the poetry of science in everything." The book is a collection of poems about science that are written in the meter and rhyme of familiar poems and songs. To get started by looking at the cover of the book and talking about what the book could be about based on the illustrations and the wordplay in the title. (Merriam-Webster definitions for science and verse)
Activate prior knowledge by discussing something your child has been learning in science class or something you have been observing together about nature.
Some of the poems are based on famous American poems. Look up and read a few lines aloud from Casey at the Bat, The Raven, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, or The Song of Hiawatha. Talk about how the rhyme and meter sound.
As You Read
Science Verse is full of zany poems. As you read, consider doing the following with your child. Although your child may be reading independently, these are activities that you are able to do alongside your child, or after s/he has completed a set of poems.
These poems are fun on their own; however, all but one are parodies of other poems. Guess what the original poems or songs were. (Answers are at the back).
If a poem can be sung (like Twinkle-less or Food Chain), try singing the poem. It’ll expand your child’s repertoire of silly songs beyond Jingle bells, Batman smells.
Pick a few poems and talk about the scientific phenomena they refer to: evolution, black holes, the water cycle, the five senses, etc.
Try to paraphrase or summarize a poem. For example, “What’s the Matter” could be “ Miss Lucy had something and didn’t know if it was solid, liquid, or gas. She asked a plumber, a cop, and an egghead and they all told her something different.” Other poems to try: “Dino-Sore”, “Skeletal Study”, and “Water Cycle Don’t try “Gobblegooky” (It’s not supposed to make sense!)
Find some of the original poems and listen to them being read on YouTube!
Activities: Make Your Own Verse and Try A Science Experiment
Make Your Own Verse
The three elements of Science Verse are science, poetry, and art.
Guide your child in making his/her own Science Verse:
- Ask your child to list a few favorite songs, even silly songs, jingles, or nursery rhymes.
- Pick up your “Before Reading” scientific principle.
- Together rewrite your poem, song or jingle so that it is about your scientific principle. Alternatively, pick a poem form described here.
- Type it up, print it out and illustrate it!
If your child has a different creative bent, some students have made a video version of a few songs. Check out their example here, then gather some friends to design one for yourselves.
Try A Science Experiment
This story is about science, after all, so why not try your hand at a few cool science experiments! These are all simple experiments that can be easily conducted in your home with materials that you may already have. Your child will have a blast learning about different scientific principles in a hands-on way! Each experiment not only lists the supplies and instructions necessary to complete the experiment, but also explains what the scientific explanation behind what is happening. Before reading the “What’s happening” section, talk about possible reasons for why you got those results and then see what was really going on.