Our Program

The award-winning NSTA Press® Picture-Perfect Science program features ready-to-teach elementary science lessons designed to help K-5 teachers integrate science and reading in an engaging, kid-friendly way. They provide easy-to-grasp background in Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Sciences, and Engineering Practices. Step-by-step teaching notes, student pages, internet resources, assessments, suggestions for further inquiry, and more books to read are also included...everything you need is at your fingertips!

Find out how the Picture-Perfect Science program incorporates all four of the components described below: Picture Books, The 5E Model, Inquiry, and Engineering.

Picture Books 

Picture books give students a context for the concepts they are exploring in the science classroom. They often have interesting storylines that can help students understand and remember concepts better than they would by using textbooks alone, which tend to present science as lists of facts to be memorized. In addition, the colorful pictures and graphics in picture books are superior to many texts for explaining abstract concepts. 

As more and more content is packed into the school day and higher expectations are placed on student performance, it is critical for teachers to teach more in the same amount of time. Integrating curriculum can help accomplish this. The wide array of high-quality fiction and nonfiction children’s literature featured in the Picture-Perfect Science program can help you model reading comprehension strategies while teaching science content in a meaningful context.

Although the Picture-Perfect Science Lessons books were written primarily for teaching science, reading comprehension strategies to use with each picture book are seamlessly embedded in each lesson. These essential strategies can be modeled while keeping the focus of the lessons on science. In addition, connections to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts are clearly identified for each lesson. 

The 5E Model

Picture-Perfect Science lessons are written using an easy-to-follow learning cycle format for teaching inquiry-based science. The BSCS 5E model (Bybee 1997) allows students to construct their own understanding of scientific concepts as they cycle through the following phases: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate


Inquiry learning contributes to better understanding of scientific concepts and skills. Within an inquiry-based lesson, students work collaboratively to brainstorm questions, design procedures for testing their predictions, carry out investigations, and ask thoughtful questions about other students’ conclusions. This mirrors the social context in which “real science” takes place. Picture-Perfect Science lessons employ a guided approach to inquiry, coupled with opportunities for students to pursue their own questions. 


Many lessons in the Picture-Perfect Science books engage students in engineering practices, such as defining problems, developing and using models, and designing solutions. Participation in these practices helps students understand the work of engineers, as well as the links between engineering and science.  Picture-Perfect Science lessons teach students that science and engineering together can contribute to meeting many of the challenges that face our society today, such as generating sufficient energy ("Harnessing the Wind", EMPPS Ch. 9) conserving our water supply ("Down the Drain", PPS Ch. 24) and inventing tools and technologies that help improve human lives ("If I Built a Car", PPS. Ch. 25, "Imaginative Inventions", MPPS Ch. 19 and "Problem Solvers", EMPPS Ch. 20).

Coming soon: Two new books to help you teach both science and engineering practices! Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons: Using Children's Books to Teach STEM, Grades K-2 and Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons: Using Children's Books to Teach STEM, Grades 3-6 will be published by NSTA Press in the Fall of 2016.

An Introduction to Picture-Perfect Science