- Read a picture book.
- Laugh about it and mention parts in particular. (More about that later.)
- Tell kids what they will build.
- Use materials you already have.
- Share! (Be sure you have a sharing time at the end of the building time!)
Throughout the post, for your convenience, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon compensates me if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman
Oh, how the first graders loved this book. It’s the story of Officer Buckle who visits schools for talks about safety. The problem is – he’s boring. Until one day he shows up with his dog, Gloria. Suddenly, his shows are getting a lot of attention and the kids are fascinated. Officer Buckle doesn’t know that in the background Gloria is turning flips, imitating him, and just being silly. He can’t see her, but the kids in the audience can! My first graders loved her! This was probably the first time all year that I had their full attention. Magic, right?
So, of course, we had to build a doghouse!
The Magic Hat by Mem Fox
Another giggle-inducing picture book and it’s written by the fabulous Mem Fox. In a small village, a hat flies through the sky and lands on the head of a villager. The person is turned into a large, silly animal and this happens over and over. As soon as the hat takes off to fly to another person the book repeats this line,
“Oh the magic hat, the magic hat, it moved like this, it moved like that!”
I guess I don’t have to tell you that your first and second-graders will sing that line, too!
What did we build?
Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes by James Dean
I didn’t even have to read this book. As soon as the first graders saw the cover they cheered but gathered close to me to listen. Pete the Cat is walking down the street in his new white shoes. Then he steps into a pile of strawberries and his shoes turn red. This continues as he steps in many things and his shoes turn a different color every time. As he walks away with his newly colored shoes, Pete always sings,
“I love my red shoes, I love my red shoes….”
Just change the color each time! The kids loved this book and sang every line. Honestly, is there anything more magical than kids singing?
Can you build a shoe?
Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins
Let’s build a jellyfish!
Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Mahy
“Why don’t you do what we do? Just reach into the back of the chair!”
The kid then shows dad what he can find in the chair (think coins). However, when dad reaches into the chair he pulls out,
- a hairy string and a diamond ring
- a pineapple peel and a conger eel
- a skink, a skunk, a skate, and a ski
Build a chair
The STEM challenge was to build a chair. Each group had 4 craft sticks, 6 straws, foam sheets, interlocking cubes, and tape.) The foam sheets are from the Dollar Tree.)
Just look at these chairs! One team made a pink ladderback chair and the second photo is a beach chair.
Sarah Piatt says
I love this concept of integrating reading and STEM. I teach only Science and not only do I miss teaching reading, the students miss the deeper level thinking associated with sequencing and predicting outcomes, both of which are essential to science experiments. I am inspired to integrate picture books into my curriculum, I have already thought of one on my shelf that lends itself to structure building!
Carol Davis says
Thanks for visiting my blog, Sarah! Kids love to have books read to them and I found the first and second graders loved building something inspired by the book. In fact, one day, I read a book to a group and decided to ask the kids what they wanted to build. After they gave several ideas we voted and then built robot dogs. Have fun!
How long did you display what the groups made each time? How many students per group?
Carol Davis says
Good questions! We display items for about a week after making them. These structures are generally held together with masking tape and they will begin to come apart after a week. I take them apart completely and recycle materials and throw away things I can't use. I use groups of 3-4 students. For first and second graders three is a good number. Thanks for visiting!
I love these ideas! I just learned that I will be teaching an enrichment class to the K-2 students in my building this year. I am the reading interventionist an due to funding, I have to teach a few enrichment classes as well. I am excited because my principal is giving my free reign to design my own curriculum. I am thinking of alternating between Science and Social Studies. I love these STEM activities. How long did it take for the entire lesson – reading the story and completing the projects?
Carol Davis says
Hi, Karen! Thanks for stopping by! I have 35 minutes for class with first and second graders so we finished in that amount of time. We spent about 5 minutes with the book and then 20 minutes to build, a few minutes to share, and then clean up. If a book is too lengthy I just paraphrase or only show the parts that I need for the challenge. Best wishes with your new job!