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Resources for Families, Teachers,
and Parenting Professionals
Platypus Media & Science Naturally
our authors celebrate families & make essential STEM topics accessible and entertaining
Hill resident, mom, and celebrated author of books in women’s health and early childhood education, Dia L. Michels has devoted her career to educating grown-ups and children about the world around them.
To this end, and with the specific aim of celebrating breastfeeding and attachment parenting, she founded Platypus Media in 2000, a small press housed on Barrack's Row. Platypus Media publishes books for parents and children that foster warmth, closeness, literacy, curiosity, and an openness to other cultures.
Hill resident Dia Michels is the president and founder of Platypus Media and Science Naturally.
In 2004, she launched a sister company to Platypus Media, Science Naturally. Science Naturally is specifically devoted to making intimidating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects intriguing and accessible to scientists, mathematicians, and book lovers of all ages. Science Naturally books for children ages 0-14 seek to increase science and math literacy by exploring and demystifying these topics in entertaining and enlightening ways.
Though Platypus Media and Science Naturally authors now come from both on and off the Hill, they all have one thing in common: a celebration of close communities and encouragement of curiosity. Now more than ever, both of these are at the forefront of our collective consciousness.
Use the free resources below to bond with your family and to provide your children opportunities for learning that are as entertaining as they are educational. (And if you like what you see here and want more, scroll to the bottom of this page for a discount code to use on both companies' websites through the end of May!)
MamaFoxBooks' Storytime Saturdays
Arizona-based author, mother, and former school librarian Phoebe Fox lives and works by the personal slogan "I adore books, respect children, and believe in the power of reading!"
Her 2018 Platypus Media book Babies Nurse (available in English and bilingual English/Spanish editions) introduces children to the most natural and loving act—mothers nursing their young. Winner of a Parents’ Favorite Products Award, the book’s luminous illustrations -- watercolors from her father-in-law Jim Fox -- and lyrical text give children a glimpse into the worlds of 13 different mammal babies.
Babies Nurse is part of Platypus Media and Science Naturally's Beginnings Collection, a series of stunningly illustrated, information-packed titles designed to introduce youngsters to the wonderful world of animals, and, by extension, to themselves. They encourage children to make real-world connections that sharpen their analytical skills and give them a head start in STEM, while also fostering fosters empathy, kindness, and compassion in both their interpersonal and interspecies interactions.
Phoebe is the author of several other books for children and reads children's books (her own and others) on her YouTube channel every weekend in a segment she calls Storytime Saturday.
Below, she shares Babies Nurse and a number of other Platypus Media and Science Naturally titles. Hit play for a library-style storytime:
Babies — whether pandas, puppies, or people — nurse. This bond is precious; this process, a natural art. Luminous illustrations and lyrical text will inspire conversations about caretaking in the natural world.
Babies Nurse by Phoebe Fox | Illustrated by Jim Fox
ages 4-7 | preschool - 2nd grade
English Paperback ISBN: 978-1-930775-71-8 | Hardback ISBN: 978-1-930775-61-9
Bilingual Paperback ISBN: 978-1-930775-72-5 | Hardback ISBN: 978-1-930775-73-2
available from Platypus Media and Science Naturally
My First Science Textbook: Atoms
Atoms are the essential building blocks for everything in the universe! From the water you drink, to the hair on your head, and the book in your hands — they're all made out of the exact same atoms! Basic Chemistry has never been such fun.
Atoms by Mary Wissinger | Illustrated by Harriet Kim Anh Rodis
ages 2-7 | preschool - 1st grade
32 pages | $14.99
order from Science Naturally here
Cuddled and Carried
Babies — whether in snowy dens, warm lagoons, cozy nests, or living rooms — are carried and cuddled, nurtured and nuzzled. Stunning images and gentle verse will capture the curiosity of even the youngest readers as they see how animal mothers tend to their cubs, pups, calves, and chicks.
Cuddled and Carried by Dia Michels | Illustrated by Mike Speiser
ages 0-7 | preschool
32 pages | variety of sizes
English Paperback ISBN: 978-1-930775-98-5 | Hardback ISBN: 978-1-930775-99-2
Other languages: bilingual Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Washoe
All available from Platypus Media and Science Naturally
Be a Super Sleuth
Try Eric & Natalie Yoder's One Minute Mysteries
Authors Eric and Natalie Yoder are a father-daughter team out of Northern Virginia. The books in their One Minute Mysteries series for ages 8-12 are full of real-world short brainteasers that can only be solved by using science and math.
Sample a few for free below (available in English and in Spanish)!
Science Mystery: Freeze Fall
Have you noticed many of our authors are family members? We weren't kidding about celebrating family closeness!
Help figure out how Even predicted Tom's future in Freeze Fall. Is he psychic... or was it science?
Science Mystery: A Girl's Best Friend
Put on your sleuthing cap and help Samara figure out what happened to her birthday present.
Math Mystery: Product Placement
Help Max save the school fundraiser -- and win a night of no homework for his class!
Science Naturally sends a new mystery to their subscribers every month! If you want a fresh one minute mystery in your inbox on the first of each month, sign up here.
Roll up your sleeves & get to work
Both companies produce Teacher's Guides full of hands-on activities to go with nearly every book. They all work best when paired with the book content, but you can still get a lot out of them even without reading first.
Check out a few below:
Koalas primarily eat eucalyptus leaves. Koalas eat so many eucalyptus leaves that they actually smell like eucalyptus, or menthol. This activity illustrates how the smell transfers, and asks: do you think it helps or hurts koalas to smell like menthol? This is a companion activity for If My Mom Were A Platypus: Mammal Babies and their Mothers, which explores how 14 different mammal babies navigate the path from helpless infants to self-sufficient adults, and comes with a free downloadable Teacher’s Guide filled with activities just like this one.
Every year, Pacific gray whales travel from Alaska to Mexico, a 10,000 mile journey that takes half a year. During this time, they don’t eat any food. Pacific gray whales eat krill that are only found in Alaskan waters. So, how do they survive the long fasting period and freezing water? This activity illustrates the role a whale’s 5-10 inch layer of fat, called blubber, plays in survival.
This activity shows students how a blue whale's baleen "teeth" work and introduces a complex conversation about nutrient density: why is it that the largest creatures on the planet (whales, elephants, etc) eat the smallest foods? How do these tiny foods support life?
Baby Bat Cups
Mother Mexican free-tailed bats leave their babies (pups) in a cave with three million others at night while the mothers hunt. When they return to the cave at dawn, they're faced with the task of identifying their own baby in the pitch black, cold, and crowded nursery. How does mom find her pup? By their unique combination of smell and sound! This life sciences' activity helps students understand how much the senses we use are the ones necessary for survival in our particular environments.
Prides, or groups of lions, have amazing social structures. The females do all the hunting, sharing the antelope, wildebeest, or buffalo they kill with the whole pride. Hunting is serious work with a low success rate. When an animal is felled, it is essential for the pride to gain all nutrients possible from the animal. This activity explores an adaptation in lions’ tongues that allows them to leave no waste behind.
Ice Cream, Anyone?
How many different flavors will Cora need to make 21 different flavor combinations? Before you begin, predict how many different flavors she will need. Remember: Two scoops of the same flavor is a combination.
You have been challenged to color the map of the United States so that no two adjacent states are colored the same. States that touch at only one corner, such as Utah and New Mexico, are not considered adjacent. What is the fewest number of colors you need to use to win the challenge?
The daily circuit
Print the Daily Circuit and Weekend Edition worksheets for more fun and sample content!
Use the code HillLove20 to get
20% off and free shipping
on all orders from
PlatypusMedia.com and ScienceNaturally.com
through May 31st, 2020
Click the logo to visit each publisher's site