Can a book written for older kids work in an early childhood classroom?
Girls Think of Everything: Stories Ingenious Inventions By Women, written by Catherine Thimmesh and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is a book loaded with stories about people who have solved a problem or discovered a new idea by accident.
Introducing this book to preschool age kids will promote innovation and problem solving. Here are two activity center ideas based on the stories of Ruth Wakefield (page 8) and Bette Nesmith Grahm (page 19.)
The Chocolate Chip Cookie Accident
Set up a new center to include a light tan play dough and a dark brown play dough. Introduce the activity by reading the story of Ruth Wakefield, the woman who wanted to save time while baking chocolate cookies. After reading the story ask:
- Have you eaten chocolate chip cookies?
- What does it mean in the story when the author writes about melting chocolate?
- What have you seen that melts?
- Have you seen chocolate melt?
- Why do you think the chocolate didn't melt?
- How can we find out for sure about the chocolate?
(Hint: The chocolate was made with cocoa butter that had a different melting temperature than butter in the cookie dough. The preschoolers might not understand melting point. However, the activity provides background experience for when they are introduced to that concept formally. If you decide to teach the states of matter there are several resources online. Here is one.)
Invite the kids to make pretend chocolate chip cookies with the two colors of dough. Be sure to take a picture of the play dough before the kids start to use the play dough. If they end up mixing the dough then you can refer to the picture and explain:
The dough used to look different. Look at the picture and how the dough looks now.
- Do you see the difference?
- How is it different?
- What might have created the difference?
A few days later, introduce a CH or a C and H dough stamp to the center and talk about the beginning sound in the words "chocolate" and "chip."
Typewriters and Making Mistakes
Set up a new activity center that includes an old typewriter and paper. Introduce the new center by reading the story about Bette Nesmith Graham who made a typing mistake and thought of a new idea on how to correct her mistake. After reading the story show the kids the typewriter and ask:
- Have you ever seen a typewriter before?
- What does a typewriter do?
- Why did Bette Nesmith Graham make a product called Liquid Paper?
- How many times did Bette make improvements to her product? What were the reasons?
Show the kids a new updated version of the product Bette made to correct mistakes called correction tape.
Introduce different letters that students are learning and ask them to use that letter when they are typing in the activity center. (Leave word cards with those letters in the center)
After checking in with the author about ideas for using this book she said,
"Personally, when I work with classrooms, I have kids invent from a mish-mash of random materials giving them a set amount of very limited time, and a given problem to solve. My theory is: the more hands-on, the better!"
Cup of Leadership is...
is a blog for people who lead children.
Deanne Bryce is a writer for young children and an advocate for personal leadership at all ages. This post is part of a project called Book Drops for Kids. The project promotes using picture books to inspire interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) thinking.
At least once a month a picture book is purchased from an independent book store and “dropped” in a little free library to for someone to use. STEM lesson plans for these books are posted on Cup of Leadership. Check the Facebook page to see other books that have been dropped.