Teaching Through Trade Books: Exploring Ecosystemsby: Anthony D. Fredericks

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This month’s Teaching Through Trade Books column explores the complex relationships of living things to their natural environment and to each other. Investigations for grades K-3 and 4-6 are included.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
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Reviews (6)
  • on Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:58 PM

The article discusses how through the use of books students can learn about ecosystems. Books are a good way for students to learn the complex relationship between living things and their natural environment. The article highlights two books that it recommends in introducing students to ecosystems without being overwhelming. The books focus on having students develop an understanding that organisms live in diverse environments and depend on various resources to thrive. What I found helpful were the suggestions of how to expand upon the information learned in the trade books depending on their grade levels. What teacher can find helpful about this article are the simple suggestions that can help make a large concept such as ecosystems relatable to their students. Such as walks around school where the students can explore and use scientific inquiry to learn about organisms and their environments. Having the students make personal connections through scientific inquiry is impactful to their learning. This is a good article that emphasizes student engagement and inquiry.


  • on Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:04 PM

The article explores the complex relationship of living things to their natural environment and to each other. The activities can help the students appreciate the interrelationships and interdependencies within communities. To learn about the ecosystem students will learn about the relationships of living things to each other and their natural environment. The books are part of a series that explores the relationships and the interdependencies of the natural environment. According to the National Science Education Standards, students in grades K–4 should be developing understandings of the way organisms live in diverse environments and depend on varying resources. Upper elementary students need to understand that ecology centers both on the various components of nature as well as how the components work together as a whole. Students also need to know that the interactions that take place in a desert ecosystem, for ex- ample, share some basic similarities but are also different from those in other ecosystems. This article gives lesson to help the students understand ecosystems. Great lessons for elementary level.


  • on Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:04 PM

I am not a teacher with my own classroom yet, but I intend to use the strategies provided in this article for the future. I'm a K-3 student teacher and the activities listed in this article were age-appropriate and engaging. It's so much more than just reading a book and doing a worksheet. These students are up and out of their seat outside of the classroom experiencing the real world. These types of experiences lead to a greater level of understanding.


  • on Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:33 PM

The use of trade books within the science classroom helps teachers meet the new Common Core Language Arts standards and encourages an interest in reading for students interested in science or science topics. The lesson ideas and/or activities presented in this article are engaging and age appropriate. I am considering using some of the 4-6 grade level work in my 7th grade science classroom, with some modifications. I especially like the wealth of guiding questions provided within each activity.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Tue May 17, 2011 5:55 PM

I must admit I was a bit disconcerted when I realized the author of the books being reviewed was the author of the article. That being said, if the books present the information described they would be an excellent resource to use to begin discussions on different ecosystems. In addition to reviewing the trade books, the author presents a variety of suggestions of lessons for before and after reading for lower and upper elementary students. The lessons focus on comparing different ecosystems to local ones and getting students to think about the roles of the different organisms and why there are differences to achieve those roles. Some of these suggestions involve research but some could be extended into inquiry, where students could make small modifications to local environments (like when the author asks "what would happen if we removed the rock [the organisms were living under]". Why not remove the rock or at least shift it so that part of the area is now uncovered? Or set another r

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

  • on Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:06 PM

I partially agree with the author stating K-3 is about observation and 4-5 is about exploration. I believe that younger students can explore just as the upper grade students. However, they may never have had an opportunity to observe living things interacting in an ecosystem. This is a great read and if you are planning a lesson on ecosystems, I highly recommend this article.

Pamela Dupre  (Lake Charles, LA)
Pamela Dupre (Lake Charles, LA)

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