An important and engaging tool for teachers.

EXPLORE YOUR ENVIRONMENT

K-8 ACTIVITY GUIDE

A creative resource for educators looking to focus on teaching sustainability.

This work is a publication of Project Learning Tree, an initiative of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, whose goal is to advance “environmental literacy, stewardship, and career pathways using trees and forests as windows on the world.” The activities are broken down into grade-specific categories—K-2, 3-5, and 6-8—and aim to foster students’ ability to care for a sustainable world. Appendices offer helpful additional material, such as “Tips for Teaching Outdoors,” “Making a Scientific Argument,” “Planning an Investigation,” as well as “Urban Outlook,” which offers ways to adapt the material to city settings (“An urban environment is a vital and rich environment worthy of study and exploration, whether it is a city sidewalk or an urban forest”). Each activity is color-coded and presented with quick reference icons that help educators match their curriculum plans to their needs. The easy-to-grasp visual presentation offers an overview of each lesson, highlights the appropriate grade level, and lists the types of differentiated instruction and STEM skills involved as well as learning objectives; it also provides useful background information to help teachers capture students’ interest. Each activity offers clear step-by-step directions, assessments, and ideas for extended learning, including workbook pages. The activities are innovative and playful; the K-2 activity “Have Seeds, Will Travel,” for instance, suggests using a masking-tape bracelet to help collect seeds, and “Trees as Habitats” includes a Tree Observation Bingo sheet to help learners find evidence of habitation. In the Grades 3-5 section, activities effectively encourage students to extend their studies by considering their future careers in “My Green Future,” make personal connections through the use of “Poet-Tree,” and understand the consequences of human action in “Web of Life.” The learner’s role in the ecosystem plays a more central role in “Decisions, Decisions” for Grades 6-8, which asks kids to consider complicated land-use choices, and in “If You Were the Boss,” about creating a forest management plan. The activities are consistently fun throughout and offer a path toward creating a new generation focused on environmental issues.

An important and engaging tool for teachers.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-99-708068-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Project Learning Tree

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Another winner featuring the author’s trademark blend of meticulous research and scintillating writing.

ON ANIMALS

The beloved author gathers a wide-ranging selection of pieces about animals.

“Animals have always been my style,” writes Orlean at the beginning of her latest delightful book, a collection of articles that originally appeared in “slightly modified form” in the Atlantic, Smithsonian, and the New Yorker, where she has been a staff writer since 1992. The variety on display is especially pleasing. Some essays are classic New Yorkerprofiles: Who knew that tigers, near extinction in the wild, are common household pets? There are at least 15,000 in the U.S. Her subject, a New Jersey woman, keeps several dozen and has been fighting successful court battles over them for decades. Lions are not near extinction, however; in fact, there are too many. Even in Africa, far more live in captivity or on reserves than in the wild, and readers may be shocked at their fate. Cubs are cute, so animal parks profit by allowing visitors to play with them. With reserves at capacity, cubs who mature may end up shot in trophy hunts or in stalls on breeding farms to produce more cubs. In “The Rabbit Outbreak,” Orlean writes about how rabbit meat was an American staple until replaced by beef and chicken after World War II, whereupon rabbit pet ownership surged. They are now “the third-most-popular pet in the country, ranking just behind dogs and cats.” Readers may be aware of the kerfuffle following the hit movie Free Willythat led to a massive campaign to return the film’s killer whale to the wild, and Orlean delivers a fascinating, if unedifying account. The author handles dogs like a virtuoso, with 10 hilarious pages on the wacky, expensive, but sometimes profitable life of a champion show dog. Among America’s 65 million pet dogs (according to a 2003 report), 10 million go astray every year, and about half are recovered. Orlean engagingly recounts a lost-dog search of epic proportions.

Another winner featuring the author’s trademark blend of meticulous research and scintillating writing.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982181-53-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

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THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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