"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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
Are you looking for more ways to add STEM to your picture book time? I have posts for those already:
And, two more posts are planned for March and April- each with STEM challenges you can easily do in your classroom!
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