Books Used in the LEAP Lab

"The Most Magnificent Thing" Engineering Design Process

1st/2nd Grades: Intro to EDP. Build magnificent marshmallow/toothpick structures.

"What Do You Do 

With an Idea?" 

Engineering Design Process

3rd/4th Grades: Intro to EDP. Create a 'Shelter' for the 'idea' using makerspace supplies. Criteria and constraints.

"Papa's Mechanical Fish" Engineering Design Process

5th/6th Grades:  Intro to EDP. Create a 'grabber' that will retrieve the "Whitefish" from the bottom of a bucket of water.

"Rosie Revere, Engineer" 


Create a prototype of an invention that solves a simple problem.  (The bus is too bouncy, drinking fountains are too high, etc.)  Extension could be to market the invention using Apple Clips to create a commercial

"Iggy Peck, Architect" Engineering

Create bridges out of Keva planks, K'nex or other items.

"Ada Twist, Scientist"


Structure and properties of matter.  Make slime! Diffferent kinds.  

"Oscar and the Bird: 

A Book About Electricity" Circuitry

1st-4th Grades-Read and discuss before simple circuits unit.

"Not a Box"    

Makerspace Ideas

Kindergarten-Give kids a box, have them turn it into something!

"Not a Stick"

Makerspace Ideas

Kindergarten-Give kids sticks (craft sticks, pipe cleaners, pencils, etc.)-have them turn them into something different!

"Robot Rumpus!"

Intro. to Cubelets

1st/2nd Grades-Read before introducing Cubelets. Robots can't 'think', they are programmed to do what they're programmed to do. No intuition!

"If I Built a Car"

Makerspace Ideas/EDP

K-3rd Grades-Create a model of a futuristic car.

4th Grade: Create balloon cars, improve upon them. 
Create balloon-powered Lego cars.

"If I Built a House"

Makerspace Ideas/EDP

4th-6th Grades-Create a model of your dream house! Include criteria and constraints.

"Dreaming UP"



Introduce different types of construction materials to the kids.  Keva Planks, Lego, k'nex, Strawbees, Hashtag blocks, Magnatiles, etc.  Ask each group to build the biggest tower they can in 5 minutes.  Once finished, compare the towers.  Talk about the differences and similarities.  The groups can then switch to the next area where there is a different type of block and build with a new challenge. (Build a bridge! Build a doghouse! Build a little chair, etc.) 

"The Water Princess"


Social Issues/Earth Day

1st Grade-Water filter experiment with dirty water and 2 different paper towels, TP, coffee filter, Tissue Paper and baby wipes. Students make own filtration system after observing most effective filter.

"One Plastic Bag"

Design/Social Issues/

Earth Day

4th Grade-Create bracelets out of plastic bags. Brainstorm other products that can be made from bags or other reusable materials.

"Rube Goldberg and the Simple Normal Humdrum 

School Day"


4th-6th Grades-Discuss chain reactions and Rube Goldberg machines. Create one!

"Little Robot Alone"


K-2nd Grades



1st/2nd Grades-

This book can help Illustrate that coding is a step-by-step system.

"Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code" 


3rd-6th Grades-Inspirational story about a pioneer of code

"Switch On, Switch Off"


1st/2nd Grades-Good introductory book to the concepts of circuits.

"Crafty Chloe"


1st-4th Grades-Inspiration for creating in the Makerspace!

"Peter and Pablo the Printer:

Adventures in Making 

the Future" 

3D Printing

3rd-6th Grades-Discusses what 3D printing is.

"We Build Our Homes"


Kindergarten-read and discussed how birds work together to create their homes.  Go on a nature walk to find items birds might use to make a nest. Try to construct own nests. Also create nests out of found objects in the room. Engineer beaks to pick up items out of homemade 'bird box'.

"The Tale of Despereaux"

Video Production/3D Printing

4th Grade literature circle book.  Many projects can be done with it, reinact a scene using stop-motion video, 'Interview' a character using a green screen, design and 3D print an object that represents one of the characters, design the dungeon maze and navigate a robot through it....

"Room on the Broom"


Kindergarten-Using hangers from the ceiling, try to balance the weight of the brooms.  Use table scales as well.


Create brooms out of 2 TP rolls, 3 pipecleaners, 4 craft sticks, construction paper, scissors and tape for all of the animals to fit on.  

"The Day the Crayons Quit"


1st Grade-Watch a video (Reading Rainbow) of a crayon factory.  Melt down crayons. Talk about how they change. Pour them into molds. Observe differences and similarities. 

Create a container with Legos that holds EXACTLY 24 crayons.   

"It's Snowing!"


Kindergarten-Discuss where snowflakes come from. Create snowflakes out of coffee filters.  Watercolor paint them.

"We're All Wonders"

Create different types of  launchers, catapults, slingshots, etc. to send  Auggie to the 'moon'.

"Doll-E 1.0" Circuits/Coding/Design

1st/2nd Grades-create dolls or 'action figures' in the makerspace.  On Scratch, record about 6 different sounds.  Create the code for the left and right arrow keys. Hook it all up using a Makey Makey. Interactive dolls!

"What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?"

Science (Adaptations)

Kindergarten-Create a new type of tail for an existing animal. Why is it helpful? What does it do?  Why does that animal need it? (Could also create different, noses, teeth, ears, feet, etc.)

Create a SUPER ANIMAL by using 3-4 unique features from other animals.  

"Balloons Over Broadway"


3rd Grade:  Create a float and attach it to a Dash robot to parade through the hallways before Thanksgiving. Criteria and Constraints! 

"Rechenka's Eggs"


3rd Grade-Blow out eggs, create designs using a black sharpie, water color the rest of the egg. (Easter!)

"Robots, Robots Everywhere"


Kindergarten-Create 'Climbing Robots' out of construction paper template of robot and yarn. 

"Heroes of the Environment"



"The Ballad of Valentine"

Design-Create ways to get a note to someone else. (Pulley, zipline, boat, paper airplane, etc.)

"Robot in Love"


Fun book to read Valentine's Day week 

"Boy + Bot"

"11 Experiments that Failed" Engineering Design Process

"The Girl Who Thought 

in Pictures"


The Flight of Apollo 11"


"Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla"

Create a 'Healthy Habitat' for Ivan.  Research what gorillas need and design an ideal area for a gorilla to live if they HAD to live in captivity.  Cardoard design it or use Makerspace materials.  Measure out the different areas. Be innovative with water and food sources. 

"Who Was..." Biographies Coding/Video Production

    After reading a biography of their choice, students can create a timeline out of butcher paper of important dates. They should code the Dash robot to stop on each spot and record their voices saying the important fact for each date. Or, students can make a commercial advertising their person, or a stop motion video or record a book talk. 

"Twenty-One Elephants" Engineering/Design/Math

This story is about PT Barnum, of Barnum & Bailey's Circus, parading 21 elephants across the newly constructed Brooklyn Bridge to prove it's sturdy.  Students will build sturdy bridges out of various materials and balance 21 'animals' on them. 

"Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon"

This book teaches perseverence, determination, and looking a problems in a unique, creative way. It encourages readers to take risks and be themselves!

"Creature Features"

This book is great for teaching about animal adaptations.  Students create their own animal with unique adaptations or add on to an existing animal's adaptations.  Later, they can code an interactive project explaining their animal using Scratch and Makey Makey circuit boards. 

"Press Here"

Create chain reactions with dominoes, Keva planks, found items.  

"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind"

Use to teach about wind energy and renewable resources.  (Energy Unit, 4th Grade)

"Beauty and the Beak"

Inspirational book about how impactful 3D printing can be.  In this book, a bald eagle had lost most of its beak and scientists 3D printed it a new, working one!

"Golf-O-Rama: The Wacky Nine-Hole Pop-Up Mini Golf Book"

I use this book with my older students to introduce the mini-golf engineering challenge. 

"Skeleton Meets the Mummy"

Fun Halloween book I use with 2nd graders.  They must create a container for a zipline to whisk the skeleton to safety.

"The Thrills and Chills of Amusement Parks"

A great book to use with a roller coaster unit.  Discusses laws of motion. (Non-fiction)

"Made By Maxine"

A child maker who creates a float for her pet goldfish to be able to participate in her school's animal parade.  Perseverence.

"I Need My Monster"

Discuss the traits of the boy's monster. Challenge students to create a monster that has all of the attributes that the boy's monster has with 

Play Doh and materials from the Makerspace.

"If I Built a House"

1st/2nd Grades:  Discuss the story and then have students create their own 'Dream Houses' out of Legos.  Film the students describing their creations in front of a green screen and use the DoInk app to add the students into their actual Lego houses.  

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"The Technology Tail"

This book discusses digital footprints and how everything that is put on the internet STAYS on the internet.  Good for introducing internet safety. 


Grades 1/2: Teaches collaboration and perseverence. Great for a cardboard engineering project!

"The Astronaut with a Song for the Stars"

True story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa who was an astronaut and musician who shattered barriers.  Possible activity: Create a working 'robotic' arm like the one Dr. Ochoa operated.

"Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race"

4 NASA mathematicians who were women and African American.  Perseverence!  Potential activities: Writing Code and a variety of math activities.

"Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing"

True story about a female NASA mathemetician who wrote code for Apollo missions.  Activities can include writing code and/or desiging a lunar lander. 

"Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13"

Female mathemetician who helped make sure that Apollo 13 safely returned home.  Activities: Various Math activities, Engineer as space capsule parachute.

"Perfect Square"

A fun book about a square who transforms itself into different pictures/objects.  Thinking outside the box.


Two blobs of clay that can transform into anything. Perfect for stop-motion animation!  

"Pop's Bridge"

Based on the true story of a builder of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Focuses on working as a team and ingenuity.  Designing bridges challenge.

"The Marvelous Thing that Came from a Spring"

The true story of the Slinky inventor and how he struggled marketing this toy.  A good activity would be movie-making and focusing on persuasion. 

"The Dot"

Great story for growth mindset.  A fun activity is going to and downloading the free 'Dot Day" coloring page. Students can create a design and bring it to life via Augmented Reality.

"Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions"

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"Orion and the Dark"

Circuits-with paper circuits or littleBits create a unique nightlight.

"I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark"

Create scales to show balance and equality.

"How I Became a Pirate"

Create a treasure map for an Ozobot to navigate through.  Low-tech, create a maze for a marble to navigate through to get to the 'treasure'. 

"Miss Makey and the Magic Bin"

"Violet the Pilot"

Paper Airplane Challenge

"There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly"

Talk about sequencing. Have students design animals swallowed and code Beebots or Code and Go Robot Mouse to go over each animal in order.

"The Velveteen Rabbit"

Teaching children about infectious diseases. (Covid 19)

"Invent a Pet"

Talk about animal traits and why they are important. Give students scenarios for a new animal.  They should create an animal with appropriate traits so it can survive! (Ex: Cold climate with many trees)

"Skeletons ARE NOT Spooky!"

Use Chatterpix to create other interactive things that are NOT spooky! (Spiders, mice, bats, etc.)

"Anna: Kid Engineer"

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"There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; 

There are only children who haven't found the right book." 

-Frank Serafini