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Science Resources for the Fourth Grade Classroom: Animals and Plants in their Environments


NYPL has many great resources for budding zoologists, environmentalists, veterinarians, and students who are just plain curious! This list has been compiled to help students understand how animals act in their natural environments. These beautiful, information-rich recommendations are sure to enthrall your students — get ready to explore some of the wonders of the animal kingdom! Feedback is greatly appreciated. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions below!

Nonprint Resources

Critter Quest: Bug Out on A Backyard Safari! is a Smithsonian production that unearths what creeps all around us.

The Ecosystems for Our Children video series by the Schlessinger Science Library is an informative teaching tool, especially relevant for this unit: Forest Ecosystems and All About Deserts & Grasslands. Its DVD All About Mammals may also be a good one to consider.

Watch short videos of animals in action through one of NYPL’s databases, or check out NYPL's Amazing Animals of the World database.

Students writing reports should visit the Kids Search database for more information.

Nonfiction (Print)

Animals on the Edge, part of a National Geographic science series, is a great resource for students curious about protecting endangered animals. Animals on the Edge is by Sandra Pobst and written with help from a wildlife conservation professor.

Animals Alive: The Fight for Survival in the Wild is an excellent, comprehensive resource on all kinds of animals, with special reference to endangered populations.

The Arachnid World series by Sandra Markle is highly recommended non fiction for students. So smart it stings!

Students will be well versed in the dog-eat-dog world of food chains and food webs. Mountain Food Chains is one title in the Protecting Food Chain series by Heinemann.

Other notable and recommended series are the Food Chain Reaction Series, which includes titles like What If There Were No Gray Wolves? (A Book about the Temperate Ecosystem) and What If There Were No Sea Otters (A Book about the Ocean Ecosystem).

What's for dessert in the desert? Desert Dinners is one recommended title from the Studying Food Web Series. 

Nonfiction Picture Books

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story

This is meadowlands expert Thomas Yezerski’s account of this New Jersey wilderness area, the pollution it has endured, and the life it continues to inspire.

Sandra Markle’s The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs takes readers on a voyage through the Panamanian Forest to find the killer fungus responsible for many frog deaths. This book is highly recommended.

Steve Jenkins’ Down Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea informs and visually delights readers as they descend from the surface into the deep ocean. The page colors reflect the water — they get darker as we descend- but Jenkins sheds light on the goings-on at each level. Additional information is offered at the end of the book via encyclopedia style entries.

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang. Learn about the importance of sunlight from the source itself; our sun makes a guest appearance as the narrator of this bold picture book. Especially notable is the explanation of photosynthesis, both what it is and why it matters. This is the sequel to My Light, also by Bang.

Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship tells the true story of a remarkable friendship between a tortoise and hippo. This story will leave readers wanting much more of Owen & Mzee… Find more Owen & Mzee adventures or visit their website.

In the Belly of an Ox by Rebecca Bond tells the true story of two nature photographers who create clever disguises to get close to their subjects — birds in their natural habitats. 

The Wolves Are Back by Jean Craighead George is all about the wolves who were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park (after years of over-hunting) and how they have restored that ecosystem to a more natural and balanced state.


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