Can you design and build a truck? This construction themed STEM challenge for kids gets them thinking like real engineers.
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Do your kids love trucks? Even four-year-old Anna is mostly out of this phase now, but I remember especially how excited the kids were when our street was re-paved when we lived in Massachusetts. All day, they got to watch digger trucks dig up the road. Then they got to watch a dump truck dump small rocks on the road. Men used rakes to spread the rocks evenly across the road. After that, a new truck came, this time a paver truck with hot asphalt. It poured asphalt onto the road, and smoothed it down. Finally, a roller arrived to finish compacting the new road. Tiny leftover pebbles flew up and hit our car when we drove on the road those first few days. They were a funny contrast to the smooth, perfectly finished road.
This week, my kids and I read Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site for the Virtual Book Club for Kids. This picture books features all sorts of different trucks, so I decided to challenge my children to design and build their own trucks. They were allowed to use any materials they liked. Seven-year-old Lily and four-year-old Anna opted to use our Brio Builder Construction Set Building Kit. Ten-year-old Emma and eight-year-old Johnny spent time drawing trucks, but opted out of the work of building them.
STEM Engineering Challenge for Kids: Can You Design and Build a Truck?
Anna and Lily built very simple four-wheeled trucks. Anna’s was small; Lily’s was a little larger. As far as I could tell, the sole purpose of their trucks was to drive along the road. Their trucks hold a single driver. Lily’s truck has an engine; Anna’s apparently does not need one. Or, maybe it has an amazing slimline super modern engine? It’s not the first time my children have taken a challenge like this in a completely different direction from what I envisioned.
They had a lot of fun picking out the perfect tools for their trucks, and putting them together. They experimented with several more complicated designs before settling on their final, simple products.
Emma and Johnny weren’t the least bit concerned with simplicity, since they had no intention of building their trucks.
Emma designed her ideal travel vehicle. See those wings in the smaller drawing in the top left? This truck can fly if you get stuck in traffic! I thought that her abundance of electronics was interesting, given that we rarely even listen to audiobooks on road trips and never watch anything. Maybe she wishes that were different. Or, maybe she simply channeled our recent flight to Florida, with in-seat entertainment for each passenger on the plane.
Johnny finds the idea of a house with wheels fascinating, so he incorporated that into his design. He managed to create a complete two-story house, with enough passenger seats in the truck cab for our entire family.
How would you design and build a truck, if the sky were the limit? What would your children design?
THE 2016-17 VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB FOR KIDS
As always, my co-hosts have some great educational activities to go along with this week’s book, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker. Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming and B Is for Bulldozer: A Construction ABC by June Sobel are great alternative reads for this theme. Here are some more construction themed learning activities for kids:
Construction Themed Alphabet Activities
- Goodnight Construction Site ABC Dig and Construct from Growing Book by Book
- Construction Themed Letter Crafts from Books and Giggles
Number Learning Construction Themed Activities
- Construction Truck STEM: Building Beams from Preschool Powol Packets
- Construction Truck Counting Game from To Be a Kid Again
Sensory Construction Themed Activities
- Cloud Dough Construction Site Sensory Bin from Powerful Mothering
Construction Cooking Activities
- Baking Rock Cakes from Rainy Day Mum
Construction Science Activities
- Magnetic Construction Site from The Educators’ Spin On It
- Design and Build a House from Mama Smiles
- Bridge Building STEM Challenge for Kids from Mama Smiles
Construction Themed Color Learning
- Digger Color Sort from My Storytime Corner
Pre-Writing Construction Themed Activities
Click on the image above to see all of the themes, books, and activities for this year’s 2016-17 Virtual Book Club for Kids! I am updating the page as new posts go live.