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Exploring Solid Figures on the Web / How Water Changes Review by Maggi Beardsley

Exploring Solid Figures on the Web
Linda Bussell
How Water Changes
Jim Mezzanotte
Weekly Reader Publishing
1 Reader's Digest Road
Pleasantville, NY 10570

Exploring Solid Figures on the Web and How Water Changes are two paperback books published by Weekly Reader. They are colorful books that explain scientific and mathematical concepts in simple, clear language. Both are written at the third-grade level. They would be books that the children could read to themselves.

Exploring Solid Figures on the Web has 21 pages filled with color photographs. It is written as a dialogue that would take place within a classroom of students. The students decide to create a website about buildings that are shaped liked geometric solids. They talk about all sorts of shapes, such as pyramids, spheres, cubes, prisms, and cones. At the end of the book, there is a page of questions and a glossary page.

How Water Changes is part of the States of Matter series and is correlated to science curriculum standards. The 20-page book opens by describing water. The description is written in small segments with many color photographs so that the concept of water being a liquid, a solid, and a gas is understandable to an elementary-aged child. It has a "Try This" at the end of the chapter, giving the students the opportunity to see vapor. At the end of the book, there is a glossary and a page of suggested books and websites to visit for more information. The color photographs and pictures throughout the book greatly support the written text.

How Water Changes is well written. I used it to discuss the different properties of matter. Although I had discussed these concepts with my elementary-aged children before, they remained baffled until they saw the pictures and read the descriptions in this book. Exploring Solid Figures on the Web has great dialogue among the students, and it helps to give the reader a complete understanding of the shapes. Great photos! They give good support to the written text.

The only potential negative in Exploring Solid Figures on the Web is the traditional school setting, complete with a librarian and a computer teacher. The students work in pairs, and there is talk of an Open House. The setting might answer a homeschool student's question of "What is traditional school like?" But for other students, the setting would be a distraction because they wouldn't identify with the characters. Also, for families that enjoy experiments in science, these books provided only one opportunity.

Overall, these books are good for student readers. The language is simple and clear, and the photos are exquisite. I would use How Water Changes with my children but maybe not the math book.

Product review by Maggi Beardsley, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2008