Sometimes the simplest stories present the biggest challenges. This is definitely the case when Elephant and Mouse Continue reading
Have Fun Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell shows students it isn’t who has the most expensive toys, it’s who has the most imagination that counts. In this lovable story, our main character Molly Lou flexes her imagination by creating inventions and toys from random objects:
Molly Lou Melon is a creative child with a vivid imagination. She remembers that her grandma used to tell her how things were “back in the day” and that inspires Molly Lou to create and build her own fun. Soon, she meets her new next door neighbor, Gertie. Gertie prizes her store-bought toys, but admires Molly Lou’s inventive play and the two become friends. Soon, Gertie makes a doll for Molly Lou and the two become fast friends.
In this design challenges students use their imagination and creativity to design, build, and race balloon cars.
If I built a House by Chris Van Dusen is a read-aloud picture book about a boy named Jack who has a creative ideas of features he would incorporate if he were to build a house:
Jack, a creative eight-year old, thinks that his house is so boring. So, he thinks up his perfect house, complete with some very special features like a Kitchen-o-Mat, a Racetrack Room and a glass Playroom that flies. A Fish Tank room for underwater exploration is also on Jack’s list as he describes to his mother all of the fantasy features that his perfect house will have.
So let your creative juices flow and see what features your students would design for their fantasy houses. Students work in pairs or teams to design and build a stable house that has some special features.
Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin is a great tale how to use creativity to solve a problem. As Old Man Fookwire tries to feed the birds, the squirrels work to foil his plan. Here’s a summary for this must read:
Old Man Fookwire doesn’t like anything…except painting pictures of birds that visit his yard. One day, her has an idea that if he build a bird feeder that the birds will stay around his yard instead of traveling south for the winter. The birds love the bird feeders, but so do the squirrels, who make many creative attempts to eat the seeds and berries in the bird feeders. Old Man Fookwire yells at the squirrels, but they keep stealing the bird seed. When the birds fly south for the winter, Old Man Fookwire gets lonely so the squirrels find a way to keep him company.
Those Darn Squirrels shows students that perseverance is an attribute for success (both on the part of the squirrels and Old Man Fookwire) and is a lesson that will benefit students in any endeavor, but especially in their pursuit of STEM skills.
Our first book in this series is Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty. This book is a delightful story about a little girl named Rosie who learns that failure is a part of success. For those who have not yet read the book, here’s a summary:
Rosie Revere is a quiet child who loves to build inventions and gizmos. She makes a special hat for her uncle, who laughs at her invention. After that, she learns to keep her inventions to herself until her great-great aunt comes to visit. Her outgoing aunt tells Rosie that she has a goal of flying, so Rosie sets out to build a gizmo that will help her aunt fly. She shows her invention to her aunt who reassures Rosie that even though it failed, it was a perfect first try. She teaches Rosie that success comes from failure and encourages her to keep trying.
Rosie Revere, Engineer is a key book to share with students, especially at the beginning of the school year, because it addresses a key issue for most students: fear of failure. It provides an opportunity to help students understand that taking calculated risks (like raising their hands in class or sharing an idea with the group) is critical to future success and confidence.
So what better way to put this into practice than to introduce a design challenge! In this series, all of the design challenges come with a student booklet that guides students through the Engineering Design Process.