Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Mrs. Riley Bought Five Itchy Aardvarks" and Other Painless Tricks for Memorizing Science Facts

Brian P Cleary and J.P. Sandy have written and illustrated (respectively) a marvelous science books for kids. Filled with mnemonic devices (tricks that help us remember facts), this book is chock full of poems and memory tricks for earth and space science, physical and life science, and the scientific method.

One year ago in a Meme post, I mentioned that something I knew that I would not blog about were the prepositions in alphabetical order to the tune of Yankee Doodle. That is a mneumonic device and a very successful one since I haven't gotten it out of my head since 5th grade.

The title "Mrs Riley Bought Five Itchy Aardvarks" is a mneumonic device to help us remember the six major animal groups: Mammals, Reptiles, Birds, Fish, Insects and Amphibians. Another terrific device ticks off the list of planets in our solar system in their order from the sun: "Mel's Very Excited Ma Just Served Us Nachos." This reminds us that the planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Pluto was demoted last year to dwarf planet status so is no longer part of the list.

My favorite item in the entire book (which is saying something as there is so much here) is a long poem about matter. Here are the first two verses:
Whether you hold it
or mold it or spin it
Whether you drink it
or mix something in it
Everything, everywhere's
one of these things:
a Solid, Liquid or Gas.

Whether it's floating
or streaming or gleaming.
Whether it's shedding
or spreading or steaming.
Everything, everywhere's
one of these things
a Solid, Liquid or Gas.

The humorous illustrations and rich saturated colors make this book a fun read. And, hey, you'll learn some great science facts as well.

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