In this lesson, children learn that the form of a tool (its shape, what it is made of) relates to its function and that people require certain tools to do their jobs. Children begin by examining various real or toy tools and think about how the tool’s form is related to how it is used. They watch a video in which Curious George has to use tools to build shelter and cook food when he and his friends lose electrical power on a camping trip. Next, they use a deck of tool-related cards (PDF provided) to match different tools to the jobs where they would be used. Children conclude by drawing pictures of a job they might have when they grow up, including a tool they would need to help them do that work. As children go through the activities, they will be using the following STEM skills: asking questions, sharing observations, and categorizing objects.
- Understand that tools are objects or materials, which people use to help them do work.
- Understand that tools may be made from naturally occurring materials or from human-designed ones.
- Understand that the form or design of a tool relates to its function.
- Understand that tools can be grouped or categorized according to the jobs they’re used in.
Prep for Teachers
- Arrange the various tools on a surface where they can be easily seen. Do not arrange them in any order.
- Make copies of the Curious George Tool Time pictures. Then cut out each picture to make a deck of cards.
- Real or toy tools used by people to do different jobs:
- hose (fire fighters)
- stethoscope, microscope, ear scope (doctors)
- mallet, flashlight, compass (campers)
- measuring tape, scissors, wrench, screwdriver (builders)
- brushes, paint stirrers (painters)
- rake, hoe, spade, watering can (gardeners)
(Note: if possible, supply real tools)
- Curious George Tool Time cards (PDFs)
1. Introduce the word “tool” (an object or material that people use to help them do work).
- Invite children to look at and handle the tools you have displayed.
- Engage children in a conversation about the tools by asking questions such as, Have you ever seen this tool before? How have you seen it used? Who used it?
- Help children think about how the form of a tool (its design) is related to its function. Ask questions such as, Why do you think the watering can has a spout? How does the shape and size of the brush help us with painting?
2. Watch the video.
- Before you watch, you may want to provide some background information. George has gone camping with the Doorman and Hundley, the dog. When a storm knocks out the electric power, George has to use tools to build a shelter (a “lean-to”), start a fire, and cook food. Ask children to watch for the different tools George uses as he does these camping chores.
- Play the video Curious George: Tool Time.
- As children watch, point out each tool George uses to build the lean-to (wood sticks for pegs; a mallet to bang the pegs in) and to start a fire (a lighter).
- Have children think about form and function by asking questions such as, How does the shape of a wooden stick make it easy to push into the ground? How does the shape of the mallet make it good for hitting pegs?
- Wrap up the discussion by telling children that in the video George used tools for camping. Reiterate that people use many different tools and sometimes people use special tools for their jobs.
3. Curious George’s Tool Time!
- Refer back to the tools you have on display and focus on a few you have not yet discussed.
- Next show children the deck of “Curious George Tool Time” cards.
- Ask a child to pick a card. Ask, What job is Curious George dressed for? What kinds of things does a ________do? (For example, a doctor gives shots, examines your ears; a gardener plants seeds, and so on.)
- Next, ask the child to pick one tool that Curious George would need to do that job. Have the child name the tool and describe how George would use it or how it would help him to do his job.
- As children take turns picking up cards and tools, help them sort the tools into different piles according to who uses it. At the end, review the tools that people use in each job.
4. Imagine a grown-up job.
Have children draw pictures of a job they might have when they grow up. Ask them to think of and draw a tool they would use in that job. Help children write a caption for their picture—describing how the tool is used in that job.
Extend with Games
- Children may enjoy helping George to build a robot in the game Build a Bot. The robot uses different tools to do different tasks.
Extend with Books
Encourage children to use these books as they continue to learn about tools.
- Curious George Tool Time by H. A. Rey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). There are lots of things to build and fix, all with George’s handy red toolbox.
- Tools by Ann Morris and Ken Heyman. (Harper Collins 1998). Photographs show how different tools are used around the world.
- Tools Rule by Aaron Meshon (Atheneum, 2014). Watch as a team of tools help build a shed.