Elementary Science: Gifted K-2 Literature Review of "Astonishing Animals"

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Science and Evolution in Action

‘Astonishing Animals’ produced by Text Publishing is a rare find in the category of animal books, or indeed science books in general. It is a book that combines carefully collected and presented facts of science gifted K-2 learners will find interesting when paired with eye catching illustrations. The subject matter is guaranteed to appeal to many young people who fit in that ‘gifted education’ category which causes so many headaches for teachers. It is a book that can be read independently by a fluent and accomplished reader, or would also be suited to small group reading circles or library use. Even the front cover has that ‘grab it and read’ appeal - always a winner when it comes to capturing the attention of younger readers.

Each page is presented with detailed but concise information about the animal in question, along with intensely detailed illustrations. The animals presented within these pages are ‘a triumph of evolutionary change. Together, they represent the outer limits of life’s progress.’ Form the intriguing Starry Batfish which was first found in 1902 from a depth of 400 meters, to the Bee Hummingbird which weighs a mere two grams, this book is full of animals which most students will never have heard of before. And that, from the point of view of gifted education students, is its appeal.

Science Education for Gifted Students

Science education, particularly when it is carefully presented through the format of animal books such as ‘Astonishing Animals’, can go a long way to meeting the needs of children in gifted education programs. Gifted education students tend to lack materials in the science education field which simply inform, excite and stimulate their senses as well as their interest. Science education is a valuable area to study with children in gifted education, as it prompts deeper thinking, and an application of how their knowledge of facts can be turned into actions which can ultimately benefit all of us.

Astonising Animals in Gifted Education

To use this book in a science gifted K-2 education program, the possibilities are really quite limitless. Here are a few with a science education focus that may appeal to students in a gifted education learning situation:

  • choose a focus animal and present further research findings about it - use journal articles, search engines and academic papers to find key information
  • learn about a country or region which is home to an animal in the book
  • research an animal not included in the list and create illustrations and a ‘fast facts’ page about it
  • create a poster display to show how these animals can be conserved for future generations
  • have a class debate about evolution versus religion (be careful of this one - its not suited to all settings!).

If you have other literature suggestions for science gifted K-2 education, your comments are welcome below.