?Some things are so huge or so old that it's hard to wrap your mind around them. But what if we took these big, hard-to-imagine objects and events and compared them to things we can see, feel and touch? Instantly, we'd see our world in a whole new way.? So begins this endlessly intriguing guide to better understanding all those really big ideas and numbers children come across on a regular basis. Author David J. Smith has found clever devices to scale down everything from time lines (the history of Earth compressed into one year), to quantities (all the wealth in the world divided into one hundred coins), to size differences (the planets shown as different types of balls). Accompanying each description is a kid-friendly drawing by illustrator Steve Adams that visually reinforces the concept.
By simply reducing everything to human scale, Smith has made the incomprehensible easier to grasp, and therefore more meaningful. The children who just love these kinds of fact-filled, knock-your-socks-off books will want to read this one from cover to cover. It will find the most use, however, as an excellent classroom reference that can be reached for again and again when studying scale and measurement in math, and also for any number of applications in social studies, science and language arts. For those who want to delve a little deeper, Smith has included six suggestions for classroom projects. There is also a full page of resource information at the back of the book.
Grades 3-6. Understanding really big numbers and measurements becomes accessible through Smith’s cogent use of scale and analogies. The size of the solar system, geologic history, the speed of invention, and other matters that typically are discussed with “billions,” “millions,” and other hard-to-visualize grandeur begin to make sense when represented in dinner plates, along a tape measure, plotted on a single calendar month, or divided among slices of a giant pizza. Adams’ colorful and expressive full-page paintings show exactly what Smith suggests with words, with embellishments in the forms of rocket ships, whales, and in one of the most compelling visual representations, various footprints in the sand showing relative life expectancies by continent. An afterword addressing teachers and parents, by the author, contextualizes the use of scale in the classroom, and the resources offered give immediate next places to explore for deeper understanding. For kids who have outgrown Aliki’s nonfiction and aren’t quite ready for number explorations in Tom Jackson’s 100 Ponderables series, this is absorbing and informative.