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STEM Storytime – Design and Play


: Early Years - Grade 3
: LIVE: 1.00 PM ET - recording available within 24 hours
May 21, 2024
Kids on a teeter totter
Lexie and Lennie the squirrels

Join Lexie and Lenny to read Lois Spangler’s book, "The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story about the Six Simple Machines” and complete a hands-on science activity about building a playground! 

In this 45-minute activity, students will learn all about simple machines while exploring ways to enhance accessibility in playgrounds for children of all abilities. Students will use everyday household items to design their own playground and make different types of simple machines typically found in such environments. 

For this activity, students will need: 

  • 1 piece of construction paper or a paper plate – to serve as a base for their playground. 
  • Tape 
  • Scissors 
  • A variety of craft materials to build their simple machines. 

Our host will demonstrate how to build three simple machines using the suggested materials. However, students are encouraged to think outside the box and use their creativity to develop their playground. They can also collaborate with their peers, with each student working on different structures and then combining them. This flexibility will encourage students to think creatively and work together. 

Materials for the three simple machines suggested: 

Roundabout: (wheel & axle) 

  • 1 small, cut-out circle on cardstock or construction paper  
  • 1 brass pin (alternatives: toothpick, short pipe cleaner) 
  • 1 regular or 2 short pipe cleaners 

Teeter-totter: (lever) 

  • 1 straw 
  • 3 craft sticks (alternative: rectangle cut out on cardboard or cardstock) 
  • 1 regular or 2 short pipe cleaners 

Slide: (inclined plane) 

  • 3 craft sticks  
  • 2 pipe cleaners 

With the amount of building and cutting, this activity is better suited for students in Grades 1 to 3. Younger students may still enjoy the activity and book but will require more support from adults. We recommend that younger students stick to building only one type of structure. This activity can also be adapted to remove cutting and gluing using building blocks (e.g. LEGO). 

To find out more about this activity or register, click here. 

Join us for our weekly STEM Storytime series on Tuesdays at 1pm ET in English! If you cannot make it to a live session, feel free to register and you will be sent a link to the recording afterwards. 

You can register for upcoming sessions or access on-demand STEM Storytime events on our STEM Storytime Page