How to Use The Big Book Series and Notebook Companions

The Big Book Series is a well-loved book collection full of beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations by author and artist Yuval Zommer. They contain lots of educational information that is great to use as nature study and science in your homeschool.

Ignite an interest in science as students record their discoveries! Our Notebook Companions follow along with Yuval Zommer’s popular The Big Book series and guide your kids through studying bugs, birds, mammals, ocean animals, and flowers. Each notebook is created with the permission of Thames & Hudson Ltd.

How to Use The Big Book Series and Our Notebook Companions

Each notebook in the series corresponds to one of The Big Book titles by Yuval Zommer and includes open-ended questions, vocabulary, and room to draw.

The questions are drawn directly from the text and allow students to sharpen their written narration skills as they record what they learn. A short vocabulary exercise at the end of each unit helps to reinforce new terms they have learned.

Ample opportunities are provided that encourage students to draw and label the animal or plant they are learning about. It’s amazing what you can learn about something by slowing down long enough to draw it!

Each of The Big Book titles also includes fun search-and-find activities to keep kids paying attention on every page. Let’s take a closer look at what is covered in each book.

The Big Book of Bugs and The Notebook of Bugs

For a world full of mostly small creatures, there are BIG things your students can learn with The Notebook of Bugs. They’ll start by learning what all bugs have in common and when a bug isn’t really a bug. Then they’ll learn how to be a bug spotter and the characteristics of several major families of bugs.

From there, they’ll learn about:

  • beetles (including what dung beetles like to roll around in)
  • ladybugs (including why gardeners love them)
  • butterflies and moths (including how butterflies smell)
  • ants and bees (including how long ants can live)
  • termites and flies (including what job soldier termites do)
  • dragonflies and centipedes (including how many legs most centipedes really have)
  • crickets and grasshoppers (including how they make music)
  • and much more!

In addition to these bugs, students will learn about stick insects, praying mantises, pond bugs, snails, earthworms, spiders, baby bugs, house bugs, and more.

The Big Book of Beasts and The Notebook of Beasts

Mammals fill nearly every corner of our world, from deserts to mountaintops. There are so many different kinds of mammals to explore, and each has unique and fascinating facts to discover.

In The Notebook of Beasts, students will start by learning the characteristics of several major families of mammals. Then they’ll learn how mammals use their claws, jaws, howls, growls, and sense of smell to survive and take care of themselves.

From there, they’ll learn about:

  • armadillos (including what they use their long, sticky tongues for)
  • foxes (including how finely-tuned their sense of hearing is)
  • baboons (including the strange thing they do to make friends)
  • bats (including why they sleep upside down)
  • sloths (including why a mold-like layer grows on their fur)
  • tigers (including what they use to help their skin heal)
  • wolves (including who gets to be in charge of the pack)
  • and much more!

In addition to these animals, students will learn about brown bears, weasels, lions, Tasmanian devils, hyenas, binturongs, beavers, cheetahs, honey badgers, warthogs, porcupines, hippopotamuses, and more.

The Big Book of Birds and The Notebook of Birds

No matter where we live, it’s likely we have birds around us to enjoy. Birds have unique anatomies that are designed to enable them to fly, and each type of bird has its own unique traits and characteristics.

In The Notebook of Birds, students will begin by learning the characteristics of several different groups of birds including birds of prey, woodland and forest birds, seabirds, owls, perching birds, water birds, and flightless birds. Then they’ll learn how to become a bird watcher, why a bird’s feathers are so important, and how some birds migrate.

From there, they’ll learn about:

  • great gray owls (including what part of an owl acts like a satellite dish)
  • flamingos (including why they are pink)
  • magpies (including what a magpie parliament is)
  • kingfishers (including why they swallow fish headfirst)
  • flightless birds (including what some cormorants use their wings for)
  • secretary birds (including where they got their interesting name)
  • parrots (including how long one can live)
  • and much more!

In addition to these different kinds of birds, students will learn about bald eagles, puffins, albatrosses, hummingbirds, peacocks, robins, swans, hoopoes, red-crowned cranes, and city birds as well as bird nests, eggs, beaks, calls, songs, and more.

The Big Book of the Blue and The Notebook of The Blue

Since most of us never have the chance to explore the underwater world for ourselves, engaging books that share this world with our students are a must.

With The Notebook of the Blue, students will begin by learning about major groups of animals that live in the ocean such as mollusks, fish, crustaceans, mammals, and reptiles. Then they’ll learn how animals use fins, flippers, gills, and blowholes in their life in the ocean.

From there, they’ll learn about:

  • sea turtles (including their built-in goggles)
  • flying fish (including the reason behind their clever coloring)
  • seahorses (including why they have two skeletons)
  • jellyfish (including what major organs they can live without)
  • octopuses (including how they make their own jet power)
  • whales (including how humpback whales send messages)
  • crabs (including why they run sideways)
  • and much more!

In addition to these types of ocean animals, students will also learn about seals, sharks, krill, dragonets, sea snakes, deep-sea fish, swordfish, rays, coral reef fish, tuna, penguins, pufferfish, dolphins, tide pools, and more.

The Big Book of Blooms and The Notebook of Blooms

Flowers dot our world with color and fill the air with their fragrance, but there is so much to learn about these deceptively simple-looking plants. They grow in different ways, reproduce by different methods, and each have unique characteristics that set them apart from other flowers.

In The Notebook of Blooms, students will begin by learning the characteristics of several different large groups of flowers such as orchids, daisies, peapods, and more. Then they’ll learn about flower anatomy, pollinators, how a flower’s color can play an important role in the flower’s life, and how we use flowers.

From there, they’ll learn about:

  • Venus flytraps (including where these creepy flowers lurk)
  • roses (including how the ancient Egyptians used them)
  • proteas (including how long it takes a snow protea’s flower to open)
  • cherry blossoms (including how old the oldest cherry blossom tree could be)
  • giant water lilies (including how much weight they can hold without sinking)
  • pitcher plants (including what they eat)
  • wildflowers (including which ones are favorites of bees and butterflies)
  • and much more!

In addition to these different kinds of flowers, students will learn about cacti, sunflowers, orchids, vines and creepers, flowers that smell really bad, Bird of paradise flowers, tulips, bromeliads, dangerous and deadly flowers, and more as well as seeds, seed dispersal, and creative ways you can grow your own flowers almost anywhere.

View Samples and Learn More