Tuesday, September 12, 2017

STEAM Storytime–The “Wright” Stuff

S.T.E.A.M. Storytime (ages 3-6 & grades K-4)

Join us as we share a story about the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, then explore the geometry of his designs and create some buildings and designs of our own using architectural blocks and tools.


As kids entered, had books on architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright to browse (including some adult “coffee table” books to look at pictures).

Opened by asking if anyone knew what architect/architecture was?  Said we’d be reading a book about an architect who some consider America’s best.  Man who loved shapes…had kids look for shapes on the cover of The Shape of the World (one kid even pointed out the rhombus = diamond!), notice what was on the end-papers – items from nature…

Read the book aloud then showed photographs of some of his famous buildings: Falling Water, The Johnson Wax building interior with the “lilypads”, Guggenheim – asked kids to respond with what shapes they saw.  Showed pictures of a few things he dreamed up but never built – future city with helicopters, mile high skyscraper.  Booktalked The Wright 3 mystery.


Then explained the stations:  (While kids at stations, played “Mozart Factor: Learning”)

On floor, materials for our younger participants – foam blocks, shape blocks, magnetiles, foam shapes, Lincoln Logs (which a family had brought in at my request – these were invented by Frank’s son John (also an architect), Toobers &  Zots.

“Build It” tables with construction materials:

  • B&T cardboards, scissors, tape, gluesticks for creating 3-D models (had on display a 4 ft. architectural model of Wright’s Winslow House made by a colleague for a course she had taken)
  • Wooden blocks of assorted shapes.
  • Keva blocks and “challenge” cards – suggested kids look at how Wright balanced Falling Water (cantilever) and try to do the same with the Keva blocks.

“Design It” tables with paper and cardboard, grid paper, pencils, colored pencils, markers, rulers, protractors compasses, circles, diamonds, triangles to trace

  • encouraged kids to create their own Wright-inspired window/rug designs or imagine a future city
  • assorted coloring sheets of his buildings and windows from the internet as well as pages photocopied from Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids: His Life & Work


imageWinslow model courtesy of Julia Meier

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BWL 9/2017 

Frank Lloyd Wright. March Balloons. 1955. Drawing based on a c. 1926 design for Liberty magazine. Colored pencil on paper, 28 1/4 x 24 1/2" (71.8 x 62.2 cm). The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150:
Unpacking the Archive

Through October 1, 2017

The Museum of Modern Art (NYC)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

S.T.E.A.M. Storytime Surprise–Back to School—Defying Gravity


Join us as we share a story about a kid who really gets up on “the wrong side of the bed,” share some silly poems and songs about school days gone wrong, learn a bit about gravity and create a contraption that will slow the descent of our little Lego guy!  (Part of a new weekly after school series featuring Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, or Mathematics! (Pre-K-4th grade)

Back to School, gravity, and engineering books on display as kids entered (and for check out afterwards)

Book:  The Wrong Side of the Bed – Wallace E. Keller (talked about what that expression means, delightful story in which a child literally gets up on the wrong side of the bed and goes through the day upside down!) also available as a Top 10 Storybook App (Kirkus Reviews): http://www.seeherestudios.com/tickle-books/the-wrong-side-of-the-bed

Poems: “Eight-o-Three” & "School Days Rap" from Lunch Money & Other Poems for School – Carol Diggory Shields

Book: Just Another Ordinary Day – Rod Clement (deadpan language about an ordinary day is very funny when paired with anything but ordinary illustrations)

Song: "By the Way" from Joe Scruggs album Deep in the Jungle lyrics here: http://carolsimonlevin.blogspot.com/2014/09/school-age-storytime-school-dazefun.html
also available on Youtube; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5jWE6Cs_tA . Props: paper bag with “lemonade can”, “sardine can” (I used image from internet wrapped around a box), 6 cotton balls & 4 rubber bands.

Songs: “I am in the Lunchroom” and “Heavy Backpack” from the book Smelly Locker Silly Dilly School Songs by Alan Katz


Book: Gravity by Jason Chin (Stunning pictures and simple text whimsically introduce the concept of gravity.)

Poem: "Clock Watching"  from Lunch Money & Other Poems for School – Carol Diggory Shields (Asked who was the narrator!)

Talked about gravity – dropped a Lego guy to the ground – presented today’s engineering Challenge:  “Create a contraption that will slow the descent of our Lego guy” (based on the SciGirls project described here: http://carolsimonlevin.blogspot.com/2016/07/on-your-mark-get-setengineer.html


  • Several items from this list: plastic wrap, tissues, paper towels, plastic bags, tissue paper, coffee filters, handkerchiefs, straws 
  • 1 toy minifigure (Lego, for example)
  • string or thread or yarn
  • scissors
  • tape
  • paper and pencil
  • optional: stopwatch
  1. Your challenge is to make something that will slow the descent of a toy minifigure  (You can work in groups of up to 4 people). 
  2. Take a few minutes to brainstorm designs before beginning.
  3. Then we’ll test them and see how they work.  We’ll see which design helps our Lego guy/gal to fall the slowest (has the most drag).
  4. We can make a prediction before testing. (Stand on a chair and use a stopwatch to time each descent and/or hold two at the same height and drop them at the same time – which has the most drag?)
  5. Look at your results. Was your prediction correct? Why did one minifigure descend slower than another?

See More Tips in the PDF





No time for:

Interactive Book: One – Kathryn Otoshi  -- All the other colors are intimidated by “Red’” until the “One” arrives and shows how everyone can count. This is a deceptively simple concept book that is also a brilliantly empowering story on how students can help one another stand up to bullies. 

Book: Sarah's Story – Bill Harley (Sarah doesn’t think she knows any stories for school until she gets caught up in an adventure involving a Queen Ant in search of a honey sandwich!)

BWL 9/2017

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