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Reading and STEM – The Perfect Partnership

Have you ever read a book to your first graders that included a sing-song chant they could repeat? (Think Pete the Cat and his new shoes….) Once the kids get the rhyme down pat they will repeat it everytime you get to that part. I also had this happen with There Was an  Old Lady That Swallowed a Fly. And, let me just tell you, it is purely fun to hear the kiddos giggling through those rhymes and chants.   So, I knew when I read this month’s book that we would all love this it! And, of course, we’d have to invent a STEM challenge to go with it! It’s Reading and STEM- a perfect partnership!

So, I knew when I read this month’s book that we would all love this it! And, of course, we’d have to invent a STEM challenge to go with it! It’s Reading and STEM- a perfect partnership!

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The Bot That Scott Built by Kim Norman

The children in the book are enjoying a science museum and the page reads,

“This is the bot, the bippity bot, the rabbit-eared robot, that Scott built.”

Each page continues the story adding another line about the robot, the curious class, the class that gawked, and so on. Each page ends with the same words about the bot that Scott built.  It only took about two pages before the first graders were totally part of the book as they repeated that line. The book has some hilarious moments when the ant farm gets turned over and the carnivorous plants are eating flies. There’s also a frog, a boa, and a volcano! The kids loved it!

So what did we build? A ROBOT, of course!

I tried this with several different classes and some did use different materials. More about that later! Above you can see the beginning of a robot that also had a sled to sit on. Don’t you love those arms?

You can see one finished robot sitting on a cart and the second photo is showing a unique way to use cardboard tubes. We also had some googly eyes we tried! To make those eyes even better I had some large silver washers and the little kids just thought that was great. They made eyes of them and them taped the googly eyes in the center. Their robots had enormous eyes!

You might also notice that some of our robots had wheels. I had some Lego sets and pulled out the wheels to try. These proved to work well, but I did decide that for first graders they also presented too much distraction. For this age attaching the pieces with masking tape was challenging.

What other materials did we try?

Well, we used cups and craft sticks and cardboard tubes. Then I pulled out the box of interlocking cubes and kids used those for feet. You can also see some pattern blocks in the photos above. The little green triangles made perfect feet.

Scraps of cardboard, construction paper, and foam sheets were great for many things. I also had some foam blocks the kids added for different reasons.

How creative can you be?

Just take a look at that robot smile! It’s the bendy part of a straw! This made me laugh so much, but it did make a perfect smile! In the second photo, you can see how a team made the nose of their robot out of a foam block. Those straws peeking out are supposed to be hair!

What a precious bunch of robots the first graders made! And they had so much fun with the book and the challenge!   Would you like an instruction sheet about this challenge? Click right {HERE} to grab a simple sheet with the materials list and basic directions. Download and try it. Please let me know how it goes!

Click on the book image to grab the picture book to read to your young engineers!


  1. I tried downloading and adding to my drop box but it says there is an error. Could it be the format or something with the dropbox?

  2. Hi, Becca! I just tried the link and it worked for me. I did edit the blog post and added the link again. Try clearing your browsing history and click on it again. If the file still won't open email me teachersareterrific[at] and I will send you the file! So sorry this is being stubborn!

  3. I did this with my third graders a few weeks ago, and we all loved it! Thank you for the great idea.

    ~Emily from

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