(This post is full of books about literal building, not, you know, kids building bridges across cultural/social/economic barriers. In case you were wondering. )
Here in Bridgetown, public elementary students learn all about Portland’s bridges, how they were constructed, their history, etc., and then they make a bridge of their own at the end of the year.
This is cool.
Also, you know, SIGH.
I vacillate between wishing my children’s education were more project-based and then wishing they were never-ever-ever assigned a project, especially one with the word “family” attached.
Family project?? I already did my time in third grade. I spelled delicatessen and made a jaguar diorama. So I decided to delegate all “family” engineering help to my lovely spouse, who responded by joking, “But I already made a bridge in elementary school!”
I was shocked.
We attended the same elementary. We had mostly the same teachers. How did I miss this essential part of my STEM education? Where are my engineering skills?? I needed them at this crucial moment when my son was required to build an eighteen-inch bridge that could hold a pound of weight.
If only I had just been assigned a bridge project in grade-school, then I could have helped my son create something like this:
Ha, just kidding. My architect friend helped her son make this.
Look closely. I kid you not, that’s the topography of the land under the Steel Bridge. Also, her son ran up to us after school, stressed because a ball hit his bridge during transport and the “telescoping feature” wasn’t working. I joked that I didn’t even know what that meant. I was only half kidding.
Nevertheless, while I may be a bridge-building novice, I can read inspiring STEM books to my children, no engineering degree required.
Here are a few books to spark your inner engineer:
Iggy Peck Architect and Rosie Revere Engineer are two fun and very popular stem books. They are sure winners, with colorful illustrations and rhyming text.
Jonathan Bean remembers his family’s 1.5 year building project in Building Our House, which even includes photographs from the actual project at the end of the book. It’s practical and exciting to watch unfold from a child’s perspective.
For a more whimsical take on house-building, check out If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen.
Speaking of whimsy, your kids will immediately whip out a sketchpad to design their own imaginative tree house after reading the very fun Secret Tree Fort.
For more treehouses, check out the beautifully illustrated Everything You Need for a Treehouse.
Okay, just one more tree house book. Maybe I should change the title of this post to “Books for Aspiring Tree House Builders.”
How about a waterfall-house, for a change of pace?
Okay, I’ve veered very far. Let’s get back to bridges with Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing, which is an attention-grabbing title if ever I read one.
Brooklyn Bridge is not for the casual bridge enthusiast. It is text-heavy with dark illustrations and doesn’t sugarcoat the deaths and difficulties present during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Worth reading to a bridge-obsessed (or even bridge-curious) kid with a long attention span.
I loved, loved, loved Dave Egger’s book on the Statue of Liberty. This Bridge Will Not Be Gray about the Golden Gate Bridge is also an excellent read.
Happy reading and building from our popsicle-stick-laden playroom to yours.