The Enormous Crocodile and a Slippery Slide

"I like to eat nice juicy children," says the Enormous Crocodile. Nothing like that line to get some kids to raise their eyebrows, or laugh. Mostly they laugh. It's one of those moments in a read aloud book where the kids are hanging onto your words and soaking them up like little sponges-- until they actually realize that the crocodile in the story is trying to have children for lunch. What a fun little book (really, the kids know it's all in fun!)

Well, anyway, you know I love to turn a fabulous story into a STEM challenge! This one was perfect for building slides.

Building slides in first grade STEM with straws and craft sticks. Total fun after reading a picture book!



So, when I first decided that reading a book to kids needed to happen in order to set the stage for a STEM Challenge. I also poured through my books looking for possibilities. I found a lot of great little books and we used a lot of them. More about those in a moment.

But, I also came across this one!

The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl

This is a book I once read to my third graders and I had a poster made of the crocodiles laying in wait for the children. It hung in my classroom near my Lunch Board---- get it!?  It always made me laugh! (Basically, it's the story of a crocodile that wants to find some children to eat for lunch. As he lies waiting for kids to come along, other jungle animals protect them and foil the crocodile's plans. My favorite part is when the croc pretends to be a see-saw!)

So, I brought that book to school to read to the firsties. Now, you also need to know it's a little longer than a picture book, so plan ahead and read it in bits and pieces before you start the STEM challenge.

The Challenge

The STEM challenge was to build a slide like the ones you might find on the playground in the Crocodile book. The materials were craft sticks, tape, interlocking cubes, straws, and construction paper. We used counting bears to slide down our slides!
STEM Challenge: This team that has a great little slide, but the cubes are tipping over. They explained that the slides on the playground do not have ladders that go straight up- which is true.
Above you can see a team that has a great little slide, but the cubes are tipping over. They explained that the slides on the playground do not have ladders that go straight up- which is true.

STEM Challenge: Build a slide. A lot of the kids used their construction paper as a landing area for the slider. I guess it seemed like sand to them!
A lot of the kids used their construction paper as a landing area for the slider. I guess it seemed like sand to them! They were also very likely, like the team above, to make the slide part out of one craft stick, which made the slide rather precarious for that bear!

How do you get to the top?

STEM Challenge: BUild a slide. Not every group made a ladder, but some did. They meticulously cut those straws into pieces and taped them as the rungs of the ladder!
One of the first questions I was asked was about making a way to get to the top of the slide. Not every group made a ladder, but some did. Look at that photo above. They meticulously cut those straws into pieces and taped them as the rungs of the ladder!

STEM Challenge: Build a slide. Some teams made a paper ramp for the slide and made it wide enough for the bear to travel down.
There were so many variations for this project. Some teams made a paper ramp for the slide and made it wide enough for the bear to travel down. Others used the paper to make long pathways for the bear to continue to slide on after reaching the bottom!

STEM Challenge: Build a slide. There were also several groups that added craft sticks as side rails to the ramp part.
There were also several groups that added craft sticks as side rails to the ramp part. They LOVED this building challenge. It was easy to prepare, and was super easy to clean up! Perfect for first graders!

Need more ideas?

Are you looking for more ways to add STEM to your picture book time? I have posts for those already! Try these:


In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon passes small amounts on to me- if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!

1 comment

  1. I love these ideas! I am a STEM coordinator for a school district and your stuff is wonderful!!! Thank you for sharing!

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