In case you missed it, STEAM is hot right now.
(Pun intended after I wrote that sentence.)
Educators and parents all over the world are on the hunt for creative STEAM (that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities to engage kids and promote a healthy growth mindset.
There’s also STEM — which leaves out the arts and focuses more on the scientific side, but there’s a growing push to include the arts, since creativity is an important aspect of innovative thinking. If you want to know more about STEAM/STEM, there’s plenty of information (as well as activities) online.
I’ve been researching this a bit for my day job and it got me thinking … why not match some STEAM challenges with my picture book, Fergus the Farting Dragon?
The great thing about this book is that you say the word “fart” and you’ll have kids giggling like crazy (and some adults too). When I read it at schools, I make a fuss about how I was never allowed to say that F word and the kids love counting how many times I do during the reading. Older kids like looking for (and counting) all the other farty phrases, like “let off”.
Maths — sorted.
But first, here’s a bit about the book:
Fergus is different to other dragons. But when people make fun of him, he has an ear-splitting, eye-watering, toe-curling, stink-making response. He farts!
When a cheeky knight in a fire-proof suit steals a precious dragon egg, the other dragons are at a loss. It’s left to Fergus to get the egg back from the thieving knight. A rhyming story that celebrates difference in an entertaining way, Fergus the Farting Dragon is set to delight adults and children of all ages.
What kinds of STEAM follow-up challenges go with a book like this (aside from helping kids to let off steam with a good belly laugh)?
Here are a couple to get you started:
1. Make a jet-propelled Fergus (huff and puff and blow off he’ll go)
All you need is a Fergus the Farting Dragon picture, which you can download below, as well as:
- string, balloons, and straws
- Sticky tape, peg, scissors
- Space + two objects (eg chairs) to tie the string to in a room.
All the instructions are in this PDF, as well as some discussion points for the science behind jet-propelled Fergus.
2. Make a simple catapult that lets Fergus rip high into the sky
For this activity, you need to make a Fergus (you can use the downloaded one in the link below, or, even better, make one from modelling clay). You also need:
- 10 Jumbo popsticks (jumbo ones work better)
- Rubber bands
- Firing power – the paper Fergus attached to a bottle cap or a ball of Blu-Tac, or a modelling clay Fergus, or just use fluffy felt balls from a craft shop as “farts”
- Plastic Spoon (optional)
- Sticky tape and scissors
All the instructions are in this PDF, as well as some discussion points for the science behind catapulting Fergus.
But wait, there’s more — you could:
- Make fart putty – see video above
- Make a fart whistle from a balloon
- Learn about the digestive system (kids will love talking about where farts come from)
- Rewrite Fergus the Farting Dragon as a play. Discuss how many actors and what props are needed. How will you make sound effects? Why not record the play and share it?
- Make a Fergus puppet and record Fergus explaining the digestive system.
- Build a Fergus sculpture out of Lego or other materials from your craft box
- Build a digestive system from trash (check out the picture below and click the image if you want to have a go)
- Chat with the kids and find out what they can design inspired by the book — and let them do it (it’s a great idea to have a STEAM box handy filled with cotton balls, cotton tips, skewers, string, popsticks, balloons, card stock and construction paper, pipe cleaners, cardboard tubes, rubber bands, pegs, tape and other basic craft supplies.
There are so many ideas out there!
If you don’t have Fergus the Farting Dragon already, that’s easily fixed. Just:
- Buy it from me here and get a signed copy plus a bonus activity
- Buy it from the publisher Serenity Press or from other online retailers such as Booktopia
- Ask your bookshop (or library) to order it in
I’m off to find some activities to complement My Silly Mum next.
PS. I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you give any of these activities a go – or if you have some more ideas.