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Dr. Seuss Science Activities

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Dr. Seuss books have long inspired younger readers to explore their imaginations and the world around them. Use these Dr. Seuss inspired science activities with your students to engage them in literary and scientific fun.

The Cat in the Hat and Science

What's better than reading a Dr. Seuss book and looking at the world through the lens of one of his characters? Why doing a fun, hands-on science activity that goes with it, of course! When you design science activities that connect to familiar and exciting children's literature, students become more engaged in learning the scientific concepts. They are more likely to remember what they learned because they connect the material to a memorable story.

Let's look at some science activities based on popular Dr. Seuss books.

The Shape of Me and Other Stuff

Materials

  • The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss
  • White paper
  • Flashlights
  • Plastic toy animals
  • Crayons

Teacher Directions

  1. Read The Shape of Me and Other Stuff to students. Ask students to describe the shapes of the shadows they see in the illustrations.
  2. Discuss how shadows are made with the class. Describe how the shadows of different objects can look like different shapes, depending on where an object is in comparison to a light source.
  3. Relate this concept to how a person's shadow grows or shrinks, depending on what time of day it is and the position of the sun in the sky.
  4. Divide the class into pairs. Provide each pair with a plastic toy animal, white paper, and crayons.
  5. Have each pair place their animal on the edge of the white paper and shine their light directly at the animal, similar to the sun rising or setting. Have students trace the outline of the shadow with a crayon onto their paper.
  6. Then, have students repeat the same process several times on different sheets of paper. Each time, students should move their flashlights into a different position, including directly over the top of the animal to replicate the sun at midday.

Discussion Questions

  • How did the length of the animal's shadow change as you moved your flashlight? Where was it the shortest? The longest?
  • How does the sun create shadows? Why do our shadows grow and shrink outside throughout the day?

Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Materials

  • Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss
  • Water
  • Cornstarch
  • Food coloring
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Measuring spoons
  • Paper/plastic cups

Teacher Directions

  1. Read Bartholomew and the Oobleck to the class.
  2. Discuss the three main states of matter. Ask students to determine whether the oobleck is a solid, liquid, or gas.
  3. Provide each student with a cup. Have students use measuring spoons to add one part water and one part cornstarch to their cups at a centrally located station. Depending on the size of the cup, you might add 3-4 tablespoons of each or more.
  4. Place 1-2 drops of food coloring in each student's cup and provide a popsicle stick to stir it.
  5. Encourage students to pour the oobleck from their cups onto their tables or desks. It should pour like a liquid.
  6. Encourage students to pick up the oobleck and move it around in their hands. Upon playing with it, it should resemble clay or silly putty.
  7. Note: If the oobleck is too runny, add more cornstarch. If it is too stiff and doesn't pour, add more water.
  8. Organize students into groups to play with their oobleck. Ask groups to discuss the physical properties of the oobleck and to debate its true state of matter.

Discussion Questions

  • In your opinion, oobleck is what state of matter? Why?
  • Why do you think oobleck resembles both a solid and a liquid?

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