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Updated by Emily Stout on May 19, 2018
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Literacy + STEAM Lessons

Lesson ideas for incorporating literacy and STEAM in the classroom.

What Do You Do With an Idea?

This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child's confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens.
This is a story for anyone, at any age, who s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn t going anywhere. In fact, it's just getting started.

The Most Magnificent Thing

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. "She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!" But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right. For the early grades' exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl's frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it's okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn't just "make" her magnificent thing -- she "tinkers and hammers and measures," she "smoothes and wrenches and fiddles," she "twists and tweaks and fastens." These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Beautiful Oops!

A life lesson that all parents want their children to learn: It’s OK to make a mistake. In fact, hooray for mistakes! A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing—not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don’t be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator.

An award winning, best-selling, one-of-a-kind interactive book, Beautiful Oops! shows young readers how every mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. A singular work of imagination, creativity, and paper engineering, Beautiful Oops! is filled with pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and even an accordion “telescope”—each demonstrating the magical transformation from blunder to wonder.

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she's a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal--to fly--Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt's dream come true. But when her contraption doesn't fl y but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose inisists that Rosie's contraption was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit.

Iggy Peck, Architect

A hilarious, irreverent book about doing your own thing

Meet Iggy Peck—creative, independent, and not afraid to express himself! In the spirit of David Shannon’s No, David and Rosemary Wells’s Noisy Nora, Iggy Peck will delight readers looking for irreverent, inspired fun.

Iggy has one passion: building. His parents are proud of his fabulous creations, though they’re sometimes surprised by his materials—who could forget the tower he built of dirty diapers? When his second-grade teacher declares her dislike of architecture, Iggy faces a challenge. He loves building too much to give it up! With Andrea Beaty’s irresistible rhyming text and David Roberts’s puckish illustrations, this book will charm creative kids everywhere, and amuse their sometimes bewildered parents.

Violet the Pilot

By the time she?s two years old, Violet Van Winkle can fi x nearly any appliance in the house. And by eight she?s building elaborate fl ying machines from scratch?mind-boggling contraptions such as the Tubbubbler, the Bicycopter, and the Wing-a-ma-jig. The kids at school tease her, but they have no idea what she?s capable of. Maybe she could earn their respect by winning the blue ribbon in the upcoming Air Show. Or maybe something even better will happen?something involving her bestever invention, a Boy Scout troop in peril, and even the mayor himself!
A classic underdog story full of humor and sweetness and retro pizzazz, Violet the Pilot is both endearing and adorable. It?ll fl y right into your heart.

Ada Twist, Scientist

Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of color, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it's up to her to find the source. Not afraid of failure, she embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble! Although Ada may never find the source, she's able to indulge her curiosity in the ways a young scientist should.

The Little Red Fort

Ruby's mind is always full of ideas.

One day, she finds some old boards and decides to build something. She invites her brothers to help, but they just laugh and tell her she doesn't know how to build.

"Then I'll learn," she says.

And she does!

When she creates a dazzling fort that they all want to play in, it is Ruby who has the last laugh.

With sprightly text and winsome pictures, this modern spin on the timeless favorite The Little Red Hen celebrates the pluck and ingenuity of young creators everywhere!

Simple Story of the 3 Pigs and the Scientific Wolf

Once upon a time there were 3 little girl pigs plagued by the tricky wolf, but this was not an ordinary wolf. Oh no, this wolf knows about Science and Simple Machines! The question is - does he know how to use them correctly?

Meet the son of the Big Bad Wolf and the daughters of the Three Little Pigs in this illustrated (ready-to-color) take-off of the original. In this Read-Along story, the son thinks he is wiser and more clever than his father and can use his scientific knowledge of machines in order to capture the three pigs for piggy jam, piggy cake, and piggy pizza.

Using his charm, Little pig, little pig, a new friend you ve made. Open the door and don t be afraid, the young wolf uses an inclined plane, a lever, a wheel and axle, wedges, gears, and a screw to catch the pigs. But the young wolf doesn t quite use his critical thinking skills along with his scientific knowledge!

The book includes a Science Attitude Survey, 8 Simple Machine Lesson Plans for hands-on learning, 8 Extended Challenge Activities, 8 Critical/Creative Thinking Questions, and an end-of-unit Assessment.

The activities are correlated to the National Science Standards and include Objectives for Students.

Mary Fetzner is also author of The Magic of Magnets.

Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing

After fourteen years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, much to the delight of the sister cities it connected: Brooklyn and New York City.

Fireworks and top hats filled the air in celebration when the magnificent bridge opened in 1883. But some wondered just how much weight the new bridge could hold. Was it truly safe?

One man seized the opportunity to show people in Brooklyn, New York and the world that the Brooklyn Bridge was in fact strong enough to hold even the heaviest of passengers. P. T. Barnum, creator of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” would present a show too big for the Big Top and too wondrous to forget.

Building the Brooklyn Bridge, 1871

Siena takes us to the Brooklyn Bridge where architectural historian, Justin Ferate, gives us the facts on how and why this beautiful bridge was created. Back...

Pop's Bridge

Grade 1-4–Robert and his friend Charlie Shu spend many an afternoon at Fort Point watching from afar as their dads work on the crews building the Golden Gate Bridge. Robert's father is a high-iron man, a skywalker, and, in his son's eyes, has a far more important and dangerous job than the painting Charlie's dad does. When Robert's mom gives the youngsters a jigsaw puzzle based on an artist's rendering of the yet-to-be completed bridge, Robert hides a piece to give his father the honor of completing the puzzle. When a scaffold falls and 10 men die, however, he realizes that the work is equally dangerous for all involved. While the two families are celebrating the completion of the bridge, he cuts the last puzzle piece, offering half to each dad. Finish it. It's your bridge. It belongs to both of you, he says. The text is followed by an author's note recounting the Golden Gate's history. Payne's striking mixed-media illustrations bleed off the pages and offer interesting views of the impossible bridge–against a star-filled sky, through a binocular lens. The spread featuring delighted throngs, both boys front and center, walking across the bridge at its opening and that of the dads, index fingers meeting across the page to complete the puzzle, say more poignantly than words that people of different backgrounds can come together to accomplish the unthinkable. Deborah Hopkinson's Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building (Random, 2006) features more skywalkers at their dangerous jobs.–Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The Golden Gate Bridge for Kids: Famous Landmarks for Children - FreeSchool

When it was first built, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Although it no longer holds that record, it is still a famous...

Mouse Shapes

When three little mice run from a cat, they find a cluster of brightly colored squares, triangles, rectangles, circles, ovals, and diamonds where they hide until he leaves. Soon they are moving the shapes about to create pictures: a house, a wagon, and even a cat. After the real cat pounces, they hatch a clever plan to scare him away. Just as visually appealing as Mouse Paint (1989) and Mouse Count (1991), this little book features simple, elegant page design using cut-and-torn-paper collage figures silhouetted against a clean, white background and framed by a strong black rectangle. Walsh accomplishes her purpose of teaching shapes subtly and playfully through the text and illustrations. Though the statement "any shape with three sides is a triangle" wouldn't pass muster in a geometry class, it may not raise much concern in the preschool or kindergarten classroom. Parents and teachers can easily extend the lesson and the fun by providing cutout colored-paper shapes for children to play with after the story ends. Phelan, Carolyn

Shape Shift

Round, curvy, pointy, or straight-shapes are all around us.

With vibrant illustrations that highlight shapes in all their forms, this informative book reinforces the identification of circles, squares, crescents, diamonds, triangles, rectangles, trapezoids, and ovals while encouraging kids to pair shapes together to make new forms.

Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons

Abby just wants to color. But all the crayons keep breaking. Ugh!!! There isn't one crayon in the whole, wide world that doesn’t break?!! Fueled by her frustration, Abby invents the world’s first UNBREAKABLE CRAYONS. She even gets a patent to prove it! Through Abby's failures and eventual success, she playfully introduces young readers to the scientific method. For kids ages 5-8.

Doll-E 1.0

A STEM-friendly tale of a girl and the doll she upgrades to be her new friend, for fans of The Most Magnificent Thing and Rosie Revere, Engineer.

Charlotte's world is fully charged! With her dog at her side, she's always tinkering, coding, clicking, and downloading. She's got a knack for anything technological--especially gadgets that her parents don't know how to fix! Then, she receives a new toy that is quite a puzzle: a doll! What's she supposed to do with that? Once she discovers the doll's hidden battery pack, things start to get interesting...while her faithful canine sidekick wonders if he'll be overshadowed by the new and improved Doll-E 1.0! With a little ingenuity and an open mind, everyone can be friends in this endearing, modern tribute to the creative spirit of play.

Ada Lovelace (Little People, Big Dreams)

Meet Ada Lovelace, the British mathematician and daughter of poet Lord Byron. New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the colourful life of Lord Byron’s daughter, from her early love of logic, to her plans for the world's first computer program. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid

A Washington Post Best Children’s Book of 2017
Parents’ Choice Recommended

Get to know Zaha Hadid in this nonfiction picture book about the famed architect’s life and her triumph over adversity from celebrated author-illustrator Jeanette Winter.

Zaha Hadid grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and dreamed of designing her own cities. After studying architecture in London, she opened her own studio and started designing buildings. But as a Muslim woman, Hadid faced many obstacles. Determined to succeed, she worked hard for many years, and achieved her goals—and now you can see the buildings Hadid has designed all over the world.

Above And Beyond

Created through collaboration between Partnership for 21st Century Learning and FableVision Studios (www.fablevisionstudios.com), Above & Beyond is a story a...

“The list is full of books with thoughtful and educational stories that are bound to spark students’ imaginations and keep the pages turning,” said David Beacom, NSTA Associate Executive Director and Chief Content Officer. “We are thrilled to bring increased attention to these extraordinary books that help students build literacy skills while learning STEM content.”

Girls In STEM Book List - No Time For Flash Cards

Girls in STEM is a hot topic but these books let you bring that important topic into your reading nook. These books about girls in stem are rad!