May 2, 2021

Build a Bathyscope

by Mary Kay Carson

Happy spring, everyone! My just-released latest book Animal Watching is the perfect companion to warmer weather. It's part of a new Outdoor School series of books that encourages kids to get outside and explore the natural world. Kirkus gave the books a starred review, saying that the book is, "[s]ure to encourage readers to go outside and get to know their animal neighbors."

Animal Watching
is a book built for the outdoors. Its water-resistant cover, sewn binding, and metal corner protectors help fulfill the book’s purpose: get kids outside to explore the natural world. Readers build their animal watching and identification skills through leveled steps, recording their observations in the book itself. Kids start simple, simply checking off observed bird behaviors or mammal signs, for example. As they gain experience and knowledge they level up to sketching, surveying habitats, and describing sounds and smells. Users train themselves to be active observers by paying attention to an animal’s shape, size, color, behavior, and location—wildlife identification's “Fantastic Five” clues. 

A little over half of Animal Watching's 450 pages are in the book's identification sections. These are field-guide-like pages that feature common birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish. Each animal's page includes space to record details (date, location, etc.) when sighting the animal. 

There are also a number of Next Level activities, including one that invites kids to make their own underwater viewing instrument. Below are instructions for making a simple aquascope or bathyscope. These devices create viewing window into the water, giving fish watchers a clearer look at what's swimming around down below. Enjoy!

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