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.
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
- The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss
- White paper
- Plastic toy animals
- Read The Shape of Me and Other Stuff to students. Ask students to describe the shapes of the shadows they see in the illustrations.
- 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.
- 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.
- Divide the class into pairs. Provide each pair with a plastic toy animal, white paper, and crayons.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss
- Food coloring
- Popsicle sticks
- Measuring spoons
- Paper/plastic cups
- Read Bartholomew and the Oobleck to the class.
- Discuss the three main states of matter. Ask students to determine whether the oobleck is a solid, liquid, or gas.
- 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.
- Place 1-2 drops of food coloring in each student's cup and provide a popsicle stick to stir it.
- Encourage students to pour the oobleck from their cups onto their tables or desks. It should pour like a liquid.
- 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.
- Note: If the oobleck is too runny, add more cornstarch. If it is too stiff and doesn't pour, add more water.
- 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.
- In your opinion, oobleck is what state of matter? Why?
- Why do you think oobleck resembles both a solid and a liquid?
If I Ran the Zoo
- If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss
- Construction paper
- Art supplies (colored markers, pencils, crayons, paint, etc.)
- Access to print/online resources about animals
- Pictures of zoo animals in their habitats
- Read If I Ran the Zoo to the class. Ask students to discuss what the animals in the book might need to survive in a zoo.
- Discuss the essentials that all living things need to survive. Identify various different habitats that animals can live in.
- Show students pictures of animal habitats in the zoo, and discuss how zoo planners make sure the habitats have everything animals need to survive, just like they'll be doing for their classroom zoo.
- Divide the class into pairs.
- Have each pair select an animal for the zoo. Provide print/online resources for pairs to research what the animal will need to survive in the zoo environment, including food, shelter, water, and other items.
- Give each pair a piece of cardstock and have them first fold it in half and then open it up so it forms an ''L'' with a foreground and a background.
- Have pairs use construction paper, scissors, glue, and other art supplies to create a 3-D model of their animal's habitat for the classroom zoo.
- When students have finished, have them share their creations with the class.
- Why did the animals in our classroom zoo need different habitats?
- What do you think would happen to one of our zoo animals if something happened to their habitat, such as the onset of a plant-killing disease or water-contaminating pollution?
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