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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

February 22, 2019 CL Lesson Plans, ELA K-5, ELA Focus - Reading, ELA Resources - Activities, ELA Seasonal - Spring, Core Literacy

How to Use a Dr. Seuss Book to Promote STEAM in the Classroom

STEM units and lessons are gaining popularity in many districts across the country. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Since reading is always an integral part of my instruction I’ve gone ahead and added an extra “s” to the STEM acronym. The last “S” stands for shared reading. Today I’m sharing an example of a STEMS unit I wrote based on my favorite Dr. Seuss book, If I Ran the Zoo.

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I was inspired to write this STEMS unit after meeting with teachers at my school to brainstorm interesting and creative ways to incorporate STEM work into our curriculum.

Cross-curriculum work and STEM in the classroom are encouraged in my district, so I meet often with other teachers to outline cross-curricular lessons and discuss upcoming events.

One upcoming event we discussed in this meeting was Read Across America Day, March 2nd. The National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. As we brainstormed ideas to celebrate, the media specialist at my school shared several STEM lesson plans that use various Dr. Seuss books.

Inspired by these STEM lesson plans, I quickly went to work writing my own STEMS unit!

How to Incorporate STEM in the Classroom With Dr. Seuss

READ: Read aloud If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss to your class. Here's the synopsis:

Animals abound in Dr. Seuss’s Caldecott Honor–winning picture book If I Ran the Zoo. Gerald McGrew imagines the myriad of animals he’d have in his very own zoo, and the adventures he’ll have to go on in order to gather them all. Featuring everything from a lion with ten feet to a Fizza-ma-Wizza-ma-Dill, this is a classic Seussian crowd-pleaser. In fact, one of Gerald’s creatures has even become a part of the language: the Nerd!

SCIENCE: Research different zoos throughout the world with your students. Search top rated zoos and compare and contrast the lists and information from several different reputable websites. You will notice The Bronx Zoo, The Philadelphia Zoo, and the San Diego Zoo make most lists.

Have students use the Zoo Information Chart to organize their notes.

TECHNOLOGY: Have your students research the pros and cons to having zoos. Should we keep zoos? is a question that makes for a great debate!

ENGINEERING: Ask your students to design a new invention for a zoo. Tell them their job is to create an apparatus that will improve the lives of animals living in a zoo. Encourage them to be creative.

MATH: As you research top rated zoos, keep track of each of the zoos' statics such as size and animal population. Have students use the Zoo Information Chart to record these statistics. Individually or in groups, have students create graphs that compare the data.

EXTENDED ARTS ACTIVITY: Have students create their own animals (from their imagination just like Gerald McGrew) that they would to see at a zoo.

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In Summary

I am really excited to do these STEM activities with my students. I know they will enjoy learning about zoos and thinking creatively. Don't forget to download my STEM Unit Plan to celebrate Dr. Seuss and Read Across America Day with your students.