My adventures with first and second-grade engineers has been just a fun one! They are eager to build anything and cannot wait to get busy.
The best, absolute best, idea for keeping them engaged is to present them with a short (very short) video or book to set the stage for our STEM task. They love quick little videos, but I also discovered some fabulous picture books that we can read and use as inspiration.
Today’s STEM task is all about being a zookeeper!
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!
So, how did they do with this challenge?
The photo above is the Monkey Keeper. The hat has banana plants growing on it so the food supply is easy to grab.
The Flamingo Keeper hat had a bag attached to with bird seed in it to feed the flamingoes.
The Elephant Keeper’s Hat had a hose attached to it to spray them with water when they get too hot. You can see the water squirting out of the tube!
This is another Monkey Keeper hat with bananas. The little engineer is wearing it while they are still coloring more bananas to add to it!
Kids loved this challenge and we had quite a hat parade when they were finished.
Ready for Book Ideas?
Fraidy Zoo by Thyra Heder
Ivan – The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate
If you have read the chapter book about Ivan then you already know this story. This is a picture book for younger children. It is beautifully written and illustrated and tells the true story of how two baby gorillas were captured in Africa and taken to Washington state.
One of the gorillas did not survive, but Ivan grew to adulthood. As a younger gorilla Ivan lived indoors, however, when he became too big he was taken to the shopping center and became the main attraction.
Ivan was finally taken to a zoo where he was taught basics about eating and living outdoors and then he was finally released among other gorillas.
It’s an amazing story, albeit sad. The happy ending with Ivan acclimated to his new home can lead into making your zoo keeper hats. For this one, I would have kids make a gorilla keeper hat and tell them to showcase something with the zookeeper hat that Ivan would need to learn in his new home. Another idea would be to build a model house for Ivan that has things that would make him happy.
Rosie Revere: Engineer by Andrea Beaty
This is the book we read! I actually have an E-book copy and we projected it onto our white board, which is a fun way to read books with small kids. Think about it- everybody can see the page!
Rosie is a young girl that takes absolute junk and makes things- usually involving something odd, like spray cheese cans. Most everyone laughs at her inventions. But, her great-great-aunt Rosie encourages her to make a contraption that will help the elder Rosie fly. Rosie does make the device and it doesn’t exactly work well. Rosie thinks she has failed.
Great-great-aunt Rosie lets little Rosie know that she has not failed- unless she QUITS! Powerful message for your STEM class!
Somewhere in this book, Rosie has a talk with her uncle who happens to be a zookeeper and that is the point we went back to as out STEM Challenge. The Zookeeper Hat was born from this fabulous little book!
Your youngest engineers can build just about anything you ask for! They love to learn in this way and reading a book before they build is like icing on a cake! Win-win!
I love your ideas on connecting storybooks to a STEM challenge! Thank you so much for the ideas. It's really helped me find ways to engage primary students, and best of all I don't have to purchase anything!
Carol Davis says
I am so glad you are finding useful items! First and second graders are eager to build anything and it helps them learn how to be good team members! Have fun!