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Picture perfect

Gwynneth Bailey looks at picture books that explore science at key stage 1

Good-quality picture books help to engage children's natural curiosity in exciting scientific enquiry. This tried and tested selection links with many science national curriculum requirements.

Humans and animals: Titch by Pat Hutchins (Red Fox pound;4.99) and Once There Were Giants by Martin Waddell (Walker Books pound;4.99) show slow human growth. Try Chameleons are Cool by Martin Jenkins (Walker Books pound;4.99) for a terrific response to these strange and curious creatures. The Hare and the Tortoise by Helen Ward (Templar pound;4.99, out of print) is a special favourite of mine: a beautifully crafted book which was available as a big book.

Another favourite is Martin Jenkins' The Emperor's Egg, illustrated by Jane Chapman (Walker pound;4.99, big book pound;12.99) a TES Junior Information Book Award winner and a stunning factual treatment of emperor penguins. See also the Penguin Pete series by Marcus Pfister (North-South pound;4.99 each) and Cuddly Dudley by Jez Alborough (Walker pound;4.99).

Penguins by Claire Robinson, in the splendid Really Wild series (Heinemann First Library pound;5.50), lends further non-fiction information. The highly dramatic Antarctica by Helen Cowcher, with striking artwork, introduces conservation issues (dual language editions, Milet pound;9.99).

Plants: Jasper's Beanstalk by Nick Butterworth (Hodder pound;4.99) teaches that patience is required to grow plants. Flora's Flowers by Debi Gliori (Orchard, pound;10.99) is a little treasure in which Flora plants a brick. Link with The Last Noo-Noo by Jill Murphy (Walker pound;4.99) so that children can delight in the growing Noo-Noo tree.

Environmental issues: One World (by Michael Foreman, out of print, but available in libraries); Oi! Get off our Train by John Burningham (Red Fox pound;5.99) and Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker (Walker pound;4.99 each) all seriously explore conservation issues. Where the Forest Meets the Sea, a previous Earthworm award winner, has stunning collage illustrations (pound;12.99).

Materials: When experimenting with water, read Mr Gumpy's Outing by John Burningham (Red Fox pound;5.99) and Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen (Puffin pound;4.99) to support floating and sinking, and Mr Archimedes'

Bath, also by Pamela Allen (Puffin pound;4.99), to support displacement. A reading of The Jumblies by Edward Lear (illustrated by Ian Beck, Corgi pound;5.99) is ideal for discussion and prediction. Snow creatures and their various needs feature in A Perfect Day for It by Jan Fearnley (Egmont pound;4.99). Martin Waddell's book Snow Bears illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies (Walker pound;10.99) demonstrates change (melting) as does Raymond Briggs's classic, The Snowman (Puffin pound;5.99).

Physical processes: Bet You Can't by Penny Dale (Walker pound;4.99) features balance and stability. Read Mrs Armitage on Wheels by Quentin Blake (Red Fox pound;4.99) and Fat Puss on Wheels by Harriet Castor (Puffin pound;3.99) to introduce vehicles, and Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough (Collins Children's Books pound;4.99) to explore push and pull (forces). When exploring sound, read and perform the delightful The Happy Hedgehog Band by Martin Waddell (Walker pound;4.99).

Gwynneth Bailey is English co-ordinator and teaches Year 2 at Aldborough Primary School, Norfolk

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