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The Octopus Scientists (Scientists in the Field Series)

Last updated Monday, April 3, 2017

Author: Sy Montgomery
Illustrator: Keith Ellenbogen
Date of Publication: 2015
ISBN: 0544232704
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2017

Synopsis: With three hearts and blue blood, its gelatinous body unconstrained by jointed limbs or gravity, the octopus seems to be an alien, an inhabitant of another world. It's baggy, boneless body sprouts eight arms covered with thousands of suckers - suckers that can taste as well as feel. The octopus also has the powers of a superhero: it can shape-shift, change color, squirt ink, pour itself through the tiniest of openings, or jet away through the sea faster than a swimmer can follow.

But most intriguing of all, octopuses - classed as mollusks, like clams - are remarkably intelligent with quirky personalities. This book, an inquiry into the mind of an intelligent invertebrate, is also a foray into our own unexplored planet. These thinking, feeling creatures can help readers experience and understand our world (and perhaps even life itself) in a new way.

Note to readers:
•  The book is long and has a lot of information that can be discussed with the kids. Chapter 3 on p. 21 is a fun place to start and learn about what the scientist are actually doing when they go for a dive. *If you and your partner want to discuss CRIOBE, it is explained on p. 18.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  How many arms does an octopus have?
•  What amazing things can an octopus do? (shift its shape, change its color, squirt ink, pour itself through the tiniest opening, and shoot through the sea by squirting water out of a flexible funnel/jet on the side of its head)
•  How can you think like a scientist?


•  mollusk - an invertebrate of a large phylum that includes snails, slugs, mussels, and octopuses. They have a soft, unsegmented body and live in aquatic or damp habitats, and most kinds have an external calcareous shell.
•  den - a wild animal's lair or habitation.
•  foray - a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, especially to obtain something; a raid.
•  gully - erode gullies into (land) by water action.
•  neurons - a specialized cell transmitting nerve impulses; a nerve cell.
•  protocol - the procedure to follow every time.
•  puncture - to lose pressure by piercing, or (of a tyre, etc) to be pierced and collapse in this way.
•  makeshift - a temporary expedient or substitute: We used boxes as a makeshift while the kitchen chairs were being painted.
•  corrosion - the act or condition of being worn or eaten away slowly.
•  extinguished - put an end to; annihilate.
•  CRIOBE - explained on page 18.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Would you like to work in a marine environment? Why or why not?
•  Do you think it could be hard to work in that kind of environment?
•  Do you think that octopuses are smart animals?
•  What are the steps of scientific method that scientists use?

Craft ideas:
•  Get creative and make your own octopuses. (For example, you can roll paper to make a tube and cut the bottom half way to create 8 strips to bend up for legs.)
•  Design your own octopus home that an octopus would want to live in
•  Check our Animals in April craft ideas on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!