KEVA® Literature Links for Younger Children
Children will enjoy using their imaginations and KEVA planks to bring a book alive in your classroom. You can adapt this activity to fit any of your favorite books, or use some of the suggestions below.
Bam, Bam, Bam by Eve Merriam
Synopsis: A rhyming book with fanciful illustrations tells how construction workers must destroy buildings in order to put up new ones.
KEVA Connection: Have the students construct buildings of all shapes and sizes. Then have them move a few feet away and use bean bags or foam balls to topple the buildings.
The Banshee Train by Odds Bodkin
Synopsis: A ghostly tale of a mysterious train that warns of a washed out trestle bridge.
KEVA Connection: The students can build the trestle bridge that spans Gore Canyon. As a class, build an elevated track around your classroom.
Builder of the Moon by Tim Wynne-Jones
Synopsis: A young boy flies into space to rebuild the moon with his building blocks.
KEVA Connection: Have students rebuild the moon. Building round shapes with straight lines is a great design challenge. Point out illustrations in the book showing one way it could be done. Note: a full moon is shown in the books but a half moon or a quarter moon could also be done.
Language Extension: Have students write thank-you notes from the moon to David.
City Street by Douglass Florian
Synopsis: A picture book that gives brief glimpses of life in a big city.
KEVA Connection: As a class, build a city. Plan the things you will need: buildings, parks and transportation. Assign groups to build each part.
Language Extension: Label your city. Have students write the name of their buildings on an index card and prop it in front of their creation. Have each student tell the class about what they created and why it is important to the city.
The Dream House by Pirkko Vainio
Synopsis: Lucas builds his dream house on an island near the seashore, only to find he is lonely. In his boredom, he adds room upon room to his house, creating a tower. The wind bends his tower making it a bridge to the shore and friends.
KEVA Connection: Have the students re-create the shoreline and Lucas’s house. Build a bridge to connect the shore to the island. Add children. (See KEVA People handout, Appendix N.)
Language Extension: Have students write short essays on the topics:
“I feel lonely when...” “I would like to build a bridge to...“
Hosni the Dreamer by Ehud Ben-Ezer
Synopsis: Hosni is a shepherd for a wealthy sheik. Hosni dreams of a faraway city and is ridiculed for his fantasy. By listening to a wise proverb, he is able to realize his dream.
KEVA Connection: Build the city in Hosni’s dream with its walls, stairs and minarets.
Language Extension: Have students describe their “dream” place. What does it look like? Why is it special? Why is it different? How will you get there?
A House Is a House for Me by Mary Anne Hoberman
Synopsis: Countless things are depicted as “houses” for the items they contain. Social studies and science topics are dealt with in imaginative, witty poetry.
KEVA Connection: Choose a “house” from the book and build it.
Language Extension: Make a classroom list of more “houses” and their occupants. Have the class write short poems about one or more of the new houses.
Look at the Moon by Mary Gardlick
Synopsis: A beautiful description of the whole Earth as the moonlight sweeps over it.
KEVA Connection: Have the students choose a setting, animal, building or object that the moon sees and build it. Or, divide the class into groups to build a city, woods, ships at sea, a jungle, the Arctic or other regions.
The Maid and the Mouse and the Odd-Shaped House by Paul Zelinsky
Synopsis: A maid and a mouse build an odd little house that, with the help of clever illustrations, turns into a cat.
KEVA Connection: Have students build their own odd-shaped houses. Emphasize unique building features—the odder the better.
Language Extension: Have the children pretend to be a real estate agent who will show you around their odd-shaped house. Have them write up a description of the house for the newspaper.
Mimi and the Dream House by Martin Waddell
Synopsis: Mimi the mouse decides to build a house. Her sisters and brothers design and build her fancy houses, but Mimi rejects them and builds a house suited for her, where everyone can visit.
KEVA Connection: Have students build a dream house for themselves. If time permits, have them make a drawing of their house before they build, as Mimi did.
Language Extension: Have students briefly describe their dream houses to the class telling what is special about their creation.
Mystery Mansion by Michael Garland
Synopsis: Tommy receives a mysterious note from his aunt, which sends him on a
trip through her enchanted mansion in search of clues. The illustrations in the book contain clues that help the reader and Tommy solve the riddle.
KEVA Connection: Build Aunt Jean’s mansion. Create some of the animals you see. Make a maze.
Language Extension: Have small groups make mazes using KEVA planks. Have them begin a scavenger hunt with the riddle in the center of the maze. One or two other stops in the scavenger hunt will provide plenty of movement in a classroom. Be sure the riddle for the next stop is found at the answer for the first riddle. Riddles can be as simple as “look beside the pencil sharpener.” The answer can be as simple as “You found me.”
Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Synopsis: A challenge to get up and go, with your imagination and determination as your only limits. Zany challenges and wacky encounters are all a reflection of real-life experiences.
KEVA Connection: Build your dream “place.” Make it as exotic, zany and creative as you can.
Language Extension: Briefly describe the place you have built. What is it called? What does it look like? What can you do there? Read the descriptions aloud to the class and try to match the description to the creation.
People, People Everywhere by Nancy Van Laan
Synopsis: The hustle and bustle of city life is contrasted with the quiet countryside. Both are filled with people.
KEVA Connection: Divide the class into two groups. Have one group build a city and one group build a small town or farm.
Language Extension: Have each student write or tell about the place that they would rather live and why.
Rotten Island by William Steig
Synopsis: Rotten Island has rotten weather and horrible, cranky creatures that love to hate one another. A flower blooms into this nastiness, sending the creatures into chaos.
KEVA Connection: Make a rotten island in your classroom. Form the perimeters of the island with a single flat row of planks. Add a KEVA planks volcano and creatures. Plant a flower (paper cutout) in the middle, and have a KEVA planks battle by tossing beanbags or foam balls at your creatures.
Language Extension: Think of a name for the new island and write about who will come to live there.
Steel Beams and Iron Men by Mike Cherry
Synopsis: A personal look at the job of constructing skyscrapers and bridges. Lots of new vocabulary as you learn about gofers, pushers and spud wrenches. A first-person account of the courage required to work far above the ground.
KEVA Connection: Build skyscrapers from KEVA planks.
Math Extension: Calculate the ratio of the height of your building to that of an
Zoo-Looking by Mem Fox
Synopsis: Flora visits the zoo with her dad and sees many animals doing interesting things. The book is illustrated in collage.
KEVA Connection: Make a classroom zoo with KEVA planks. Invite guests to visit your zoo.
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