Friday, January 6, 2012

Inventors and Inventions

Creative juices flowing. Dreams of building something marvelous. Children love books about people who created something useful, something we use on a daily basis. Ah, the wonder of it all!

Looking for books to keep creativity stoked? There are several for younger learners. Some grew to be our favorites, checked out again and again at the library. When my oldest son went through the inventor stage and we couldn't find a picture book on the subject, I would check out books for the older learners and we would look at the pictures, read the captions, or I would read the book aloud to him, depending on his interest. I specifically remember one about Mr. Kellogg, the cereal genius. We read, both thoroughly engrossed with the process of making the tasty crunchies in our breakfast bowls.

The Childhood of Famous American series has provided us great read alouds about the childhood lives of famous folks. Several are about inventors. Interesting to see how their childhoods influenced their careers and ideas. Here are a list of our favorites books about inventors:

Young Thomas Edison, Michael Dooling (fabulous text and illustrations)

Snowflake Bentley, Jacqueline Briggs Martin (by far a favorite with more than one check-out)

The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot, Alice Provensen

Stradivari's Singing Violin, Catherine Deverell (a definite favorite)

Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor, Emily Arnold McCully

Click: A Story about George Eastman, Barbara Mitchell

Boss of the Plains: The Hat that Won the West, Laurie Carlson

Thomas Edison: Young Inventor (Childhood of Famous Americans), Sue Guthridge

The Great Horse and Carriage Race, Michael Dooling

Listen UP! Alexander Graham Bell's Talking Machine, Monica Kulling (Step Up to Reading- great for beginning readers)

Wilbur and Orville Wright: Young Fliers (Childhood of Famous Americans series), Augusta Stevenson

A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison, David Adler (one of our absolute favorite series)

Pioneer Plowman: A Story about John Deere, David R. Collins

Homer Price, Robert McCloskey (fictional)

Want to make learning experiential? Here are some ideas:
There are lots of hands-on, experiential activities which can enhance the learning of your young inventor.

Perhaps the best idea might be providing found objects which can be used in creative ventures. In an inventions box (a cardboard or plastic bucket) place:
  • nuts and bolts
  • glue
  • newspaper or wallpaper
  • paper clips
  • staples and stapler
  • pvc pipes and elbows
  • duct tape
  • scissors (age-appropriate, of course)
  • dowel rods
  • wood pieces
  • craft sticks
  • straws
  • plastic spoons
  • pipe cleaners
  • colored wire
Build a model rocket. Estes kits have rockets suitable for beginner as well as advanced builders.

Design a kite. Catch the wind and give it a try.

Build a bridge. See how much weight the bridge can hold. Popsicle sticks and straws make great bridge building materials.

Invent a cookie. Yes, all cookie recipes start in someone's kitchen. My childhood friend and I spent many a Saturday trying to create the next cookie sensation.

Want to dig deeper?