Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Listen, I said to my 9 year old. I have a project with my blog friends to tell the world about our kids' favorite book by doing an engineering project based on this book. What book would you choose? My daughter did not think long. This is going to be fun! Let's do an engineering project based on Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Engineering challenge for kids: design a Greek temple
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Why Each Child Should Read Percy Jackson Series

Smarty had a love affair with Greek myths since she was about 5 years old. Somehow she found them less scary than regular fairy tales, perhaps because she could firmly place them into "not real" category in her head. She really loved 21st century's take on Greek myths, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. She read all five books in this series in the summer between the first and the second grade when she was not yet 7. 
You might think that it's a bit early considering that Rick Riordan's books are considered to be "young adult" novels, but both my husband and I read the books before her and decided that they did not have anything that we consider inappropriate. However, the concept of "clean literature for kids" can vary widely for different families, so I would recommend parents to read the books first or at least check out more detailed plot summaries on Wikipedia or elsewhere to decide whether Rick Riordan's novels will work for young kids of your family.
In terms of reading level difficulty, The Lightning Thief, the first book in The Olympians series, is set at 4.7 (i.e. mid fifth grade), but I know plenty of little bookworms who, just like Smarty, read it and the rest of the series in early elementary school or listened to the audio book version. However, The Lightning Thief can be a high interest book for your reluctant older reader, because it has characters that struggling kids can connect to - kids with dyslexia and ADHD, kids raised by single parents, kids of minority race and (in the Roman series) of different sexual orientation.
I think that Rick Riordan did a great job with female characters in his books. The main female character in the first series, Annabeth Chase, is mentally and physically strong, intelligent, and funny. She also happens to be a character interested in engineering who dreams of becoming an architect. This interest in architecture prompted Smarty to select an engineering project to come with this book.

Design a Temple for Your Favorite Greek God

Smarty was always very clear about who her favorite God was in Rick Riordan's books. She dedicated her temple to Poseidon, I personally think that the title of "most improved" in comparison to original myths should go to Hades, because Rick Riordan made that God very multi-dimensional. But I digress. I tried to convince Smarty to look at real Greek temples and build hers from LEGO, but she reminded me firmly that it's her project and built her temple out of her favorite building materials - Magna-Tiles. Then she accessorized it with LEGO mini-builds of her own design.
Poseidon temple

Smarty was very serious about her temple design, and she even had an explanation about why Poseidon throne's and main praying area would be on the top of her temple. She thinks that Poseidon would appreciate taking over some of his brother's Zeus domain :) She also worked hard on designing a perfect throne for "Poseidon's mighty butt". 
Poseidon Throne from LEGO

In case you are wondering how we came upon all those special LEGO pieces used in this throne - the answer is Pick a Brick program in our local LEGO store. Every so often my husband goes there and fills a small plastic bucket with tiny little pieces so loved by our daughter. He also helped her set up a system of various containers to keep her giant collection of loose LEGO parts half-way organized. But that's a subject for another post...

Your Turn

Fun STEM activity for kids - build a temple to their favorite ancient deity

Have your kids read Rick Riordan's books? Have they enjoyed them?

More Engineering Ideas for Kids?

From my blog:

Would you like more STEM ideas inspired by favorite books? Check out the landing page at The Inspiration Laboratories where my kid blogger friends are sharing their favorites every day in March.

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Trisha @ Inspiration Laboratories said...

I love the combination of Magna Tiles and LEGO as well as the fact that Smarty took control of the project!

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

What a cool project! I don't think Emma has read the Percy Jackson books yet - maybe I'll have to find them for her - and maybe Johnny as well?

Ticia said...

My kids are currently trying to organize their legos by color..... We'll see how long that one lasts.

Mine haven't read them yet, but much to my chagrin my kids are not the voracious readers I am.