Todd Parr is the author of over 50 children’s books that are full of fun, positive messages. Be Who You Are Day on September 30 includes activities that help kids celebrate what makes each of them special.
Who knew that reading fairy tales could lead to engineering experiments?
Last month at our Zoom STEAM at Home event, we led kids through these fun building activities that were inspired by fairy tales. These projects are easy to do with stuff you probably already have around the house.
Supplies: 2 popsicle sticks, (duct) tape, string, and an unsharpened pencil.
You can experiment with different types of string and various lengths to see what works best. After you build it, place your pencil with the eraser on the string, pull back, and see how far your pencil goes! Just don’t aim at any screens or people please!
For The Three Little Pigs, experiment with different materials to see what house is the strongest. You can use toothpicks, straws, LEGO bricks, or many other things you have at home.
For Rapunzel, try building a slide for Rapunzel to escape the tower. Our slide was made of toilet paper/paper towel rolls and tape. You can experiment with making the slide steeper so she slides faster, or more gradual so it’s slower.
For Goldilocks and the Three Bears, try to build a bed that can hold the most weight (we used coins). Some ideas for materials are cardboard, bubble wrap, tin foil, and cupcake liners, but there are many things that would work for this activity. Once you’ve built your bed, stack coins and see how many it holds.
Have fun and keep building! For more activities to do at home, check out this page.
Radiolab, one of the most beloved podcasts in the world, has collected their most family-friendly content in the podcast Radiolab for Kids. From “What do dogs see when they look at the rainbow?” to “Do animals laugh?” the topics are all about curiosity. Radiolab for Kids is sure to delight and engage the most curious minds.
Start with one of these episodes!
OctomomA mile under the ocean, we get to watch an octopus perform an act of heart and determination.
Poop TrainEver wonder what happens to your poop after you flush? So did we, but we weren’t quite prepared for where it would take us.
Animal MindsCommunicating across species — from bringing pets to church, to a rescued whale that may have found a way to say thanks.
Goo and You When producer Molly Webster peers inside a pupa, she witnesses some of the most complex biology happening on earth…and catches sight of an ancient question of change.
Families looking for virtual and screen free activities should check out NWSRA’s Activity Center! The September Virtual Programming schedule has been published, and includes programs for people of all ages with disabilities and different interests, like LEGO, music, and animals. The Activity Center also includes activities you can do on your own, many of which are screen free.
Here’s a recipe for edible sensory dough that only needs 3 ingredients and will smell and feel great! Kids and grown ups can make this together and experiment with coming up with just the right texture.
Build your bridge using only straws and clear tape. Before you build, you may want to sketch your design and test out shapes to see which are the strongest. For example, when you tape straw pieces together to make a square, should you leave the center empty, or add more straw supports in the center?
When you are satisfied with your bridge, place it between two tables or chairs that are space at least 9 inches apart. Place the cup in the middle and add a few pennies at a time. Count the pennies and keep adding them until the bridge collapses. How many pennies did it hold? How did the bridge break? Can you change your design to make it stronger?
The Museum of Science + Industry explains what is happening:
Look at a steel or wooden bridge and often you will see triangle shapes making up most of the bridge’s support structure. These are called truss bridges. Triangles are structurally the strongest shape because they allow weight to be evenly spread throughout a structure, allowing it to support heavy loads. Truss patterns are used in other structures as well, such as roofs, radio towers, crane arms, and more.
To learn more about bridges and other exciting engineering, check out these books!