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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 9 years, 9 months ago

30 June 2010 BALANCING ACT by Ellen Stoll Walsh, Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, September 2010, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-4424-0757-2


"I know you won't believe me

But I'm certain that I did see

A mouse playing daffodil."

-- The Moody Blues, "Nice to be Here"


"The mice made a teeter-totter.

It was fun to balance...one mouse on each end.



I cannot recall where and with whom I first sat upon a teeter-totter (or, as we called them, a see saw).  But I imagine it to have been a pleasant experience for, as far back as I can remember, I always loved finding a friend with whom I balanced.  When one sits upon a teeter-totter with such a friend, it is possible to go up and down, up and down, up and down with just the slightest push of sneakered toes against the ground.


"But then a salamander wanted a turn.  Hmmm.

Luckily, a friend stepped in to help.

Perfect.  Balance again."


Wait until you see what happens when the giant bird comes zooming down and everyone else piles up on the opposite side in order to once again achieve balance.  


"Whoops!  That's not going to work!"


Ellen Stoll Walsh's beloved cut paper mice and frog characters have been painting and counting for decades.  BALANCING ACT is one more reason to love them, for this is both a very fun story and a great educational resource. 


Being engaged in balancing the two sides of a teeter-totter is a gross motor play activity that helps ready children for understanding the foundations of a vast number of physical force and mathematical concepts they will be encountering over the course of their educations. 


Back in my childcare center days, we also provided a balance scale with which the children could experiment by filling its pair of little plastic buckets with whatever objects they chose to borrow from the various play centers.  Remember learning Density = Mass/Volume?  They didn't know it yet, but that is what my preschool students were beginning to learn when I'd watch them place a stone in one bucket and then try to load the other bucket with sufficient wooden puzzle pieces to achieve balance. 


In the years that are to come, today's preschool students will progress from balancing teeter-totters and toy scales to building an understanding of gravity and density and solving algebraic equations for which they must determine the quantity necessary to balance that which is on the opposite side of an equals sign. 


But it all starts here.  Seemingly simple but deceivingly rich with great math and science concepts, BALANCING ACT will teach as it entertains.  (Just be sure to watch out for kids trying to pile atop one another on the see saw after you read this one to them!)




Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/
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FTC NOTICE: Richie receives free books from lots of publishers who hope he will Pick their books.  You can figure that any review was written after reading and dog-earring a free copy received.  Richie retains these review copies for his rereading pleasure and for use in his booktalks at schools and libraries.

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