Blogger Kary Henry

Picture Books + Homeschool Science = Win, Part 2

Last month, I shared my picture book/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) series for younger homeschool students. This month, I’ll focus on the older students (ages 11-14) and the “Spring into Motion” physics series I created for them, using picture books and STEAM concepts.

Spring into Motion

For this group, I again focused on projects that would lend themselves to kits and easily accessible materials from home. I wanted to explore the laws of motion with my homeschool students in a fun and engaging way. To do so, I chose mobiles, roller coasters, and paper airplane launchers.

  • For our first program, we explored the mobile art of Alexander Calder. We read Sandy’s Circus by Tanya Lee Stone, with illustrations by Boris Kulikov. We talked about how babies’ rooms have mobiles, and we can thank Alexander Calder for that! Since mathematical equations are just numbers in balance, we did a few math problems. The students used drinking straws, yarn, and cardstock to create mobiles. Harder than one might suspect! We also discussed Newton’s laws of motion, potential and kinetic energy, and force.
  • We went for wild rides on roller coasters during the second week! Well, we didn’t, but the marbles I provided went for rides on the paper roller coasters the students created! Science Buddies, one of my go-to STEM websites, provided a perfect paper roller coaster activity. I read an e-book to the students first, How a Roller Coaster is Built by Kate Mikoley, and we watched a short YouTube video. I really don’t do roller coasters, so my eyes were closed even during the video!
  • For our final program of the series, we went from roller coasters to paper airplanes with another Science Buddies project. To begin, I read Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W. Larson and illustrated by Tracy Subisak. This paper airplane launcher project proved to be great fun! Most of the students made their launchers out of the cardboard I provided, but one student made his out of LEGOs!

All in all, both series were very successful. The homeschool students loved the projects, and I loved connecting STEAM concepts to picture books. What are some of YOUR favorite picture books to use with STEAM projects? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and III. Programming Skills.

One comment

  1. Carol Levin

    Great ideas! I love using picture books for STEAM and have compiled many of my ideas at

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