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Tower, Bridge, Seesaw, Slide

Tower, Bridge, Seesaw, Slide
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Carrot & Pea: An Unlikely Friendship is a sweet story about standing out and embracing differences — so probably not what you'd immediately think of as a book about science, technology, engineering and math. But as part of our work to create a Tinkering Library, we're seeking out books like this one as inspiration for hands-on tinkering activities because they both tell compelling stories and connect to STEAM concepts and processes in inspiring, and sometimes unexpected, ways.  


The peas in the story slide down Colin the carrot, so in the past we've used the book to launch explorations of slopes, ramps, and rolling. Recently, we had the chance to build on this pairing and use Carrot & Pea to launch a broader set of hands-on building activities with second graders class over Zoom. Here's what we tried, in case you'd like to try it out too!

1. Read Carrot & Pea.

Read the book aloud to the group or take turns reading different pages. Pause to look closely at the illustrations of carrot acting as a tower, bridge, and slide (pictured here). 

A pea slides down a carrot ramp
Illustration by Morag Hood

2. Collect a materials set. 


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Collect — or create — your materials set. To visually tie your builds back to the book, make your own Colin the carrot and find balls or limes to use as peas. 

☐ Peas (things that roll): Collect objects that roll, like different kinds of balls or even limes. Tip: try to find objects that are the same size but different weights. 

☐ Carrots (building materials): Make your own Colin the carrot using things like cardboard boxes or sheets, poster board, blocks, books, cardboard tubes, cutting boards, container lids, and other everyday materials.  

☐ More Ideas: Tape, scissors, drawing materials, and construction paper can help transform everyday objects into characters. 

Downloadable Materials PDF

3. Build a tower, bridge, slide, or seesaw.

Construct a tower, bridge, slide, or seesaw. If you're building a tower, see how tall or how stable you can make your build. Think about how you can reuse the same materials in different configurations. How can you transform a paper towel tube into a bridge to transport balls from one place to another? Can your bridge become a ramp? 

The story doesn't mention Colin acting as a seesaw, so we imagined our own version of what that might look like to tie in some explorations of balance and stability. Try placing a ball on a cup or yogurt container to keep it stable, and use it as a base for a seesaw. 

Download PDF with all 4 builds.

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All of the examples and quotes below are by 2nd grade students in Mr. Limata's class. Share back what you try too — we're still testing out how these kinds of book and hands-on activity combinations work in action. 

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Combine materials in surprising ways.
Try using balls, books, and planks
between tubes to build towers. How can
you make them more stable?
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Add some personality!
"I drew on my pea because I got
inspired by you drawing on your
pea. And I drew a little smiling face
and then added some hair.”


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Collect multiples of materials...
to support more complex constructions, like
this tower ramp. The class even coined the
term "slidge" for slides that are also bridges! 


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Invent connections.
One challenge that came up was how to
connect cardboard tubes together
to make longer ramps and tunnels.


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Use everyday objects. 
Many students took advantage of
household objects, like books and
boxes, in clever ways.


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Ask for a description.
“So you put two tubes on the side of
your book, or desk, or kitchen table
and then you cut a tube in half...then
you put it on top of the tubes!” 


Carrot and Pea book next to green balls, an orange paper towel tube, scissors, and an orange marker