Tag Archives: engineering and design

Ben & Vicky

8 Oct

What do Queen Victoria and Benjamin Franklin have in Common? Besides the new pictures books that feature each of them, they both loved swimming!

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Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine,  written by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, is written in verse and tells the true story of Queen Victoria’s real dilemma. She wanted to bathe in the sea, but decorum dictated that she mustn’t.  Prince Albert, ever the innovator, created a bathing machine, a small house that permitted the Queen to bathe in privacy. The real thing has been restored and can still be seen.


While listening to the 7th Jacky Faber book, Rapture of the Deep, I came across mention of the paddles Ben Franklin invented to help. What a delight to discover Barb Rosenstock’s  Ben Franklin;s Big Splash which talks about Ben’s desire to become a better swimmer. To go faster he first created hand paddles, which were very effective. His feet paddles were less helpful. The playful illustrations, by S. D. Schindler, show a naked Ben swimming, with vital parts strategically covered by water.

Both books take readers through the design process and would be a fun introduction to ann engineering and design unit.

Picture book problem solvers

7 May


Let me start by confessing I almost cried reading Found by Salina Yoon. It starts of very simply.


Bear does everything he can to find the owner of the bunny, but to no avail. Then one day, he does. But by then he has grown very attached to bunny. But he does the right thing and goes it back. Even though he doesn’t want to, he knows in his heart it’s the right thing to do. This made me tear up. What Moose, the owner does next, is brilliant. And it is his action that  made the  tears leak out.

In Ashley Spires’ The Most Magnificent Thing, 


a little girl who makes things has a brilliant idea. The Most Magnificent Idea. She knows how it will look and work. But making it turns out to be harder than she thought. A great book to talk about engineering and design, and perseverance. the words and pictures convey  her frustration, anger and enthusiasm. The text uses vivid language to explain how she creates: “tinkers and hammers and measures,” she “smooths and wrenches and fiddles,” she “twists and tweaks and fastens.”

Two really great picture books you and your kids will enjoy.

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