Memoirs of a Parrot
Picture Book Stem
Memoirs of a Parrot birdcage activity is perfect for picture book STEM. After hearing the story students can use a variety of supplies to build the parrot a new birdcage.
A Quick Book Review
Memoirs of a Parrot by Devin Scillian is a hilarious journey of friendship and understanding through new forms of communication. Brock is a very stubborn parrot that lives at Wilber’s Pet Store until one day Todd purchases him and brings him home. Brock and Todd do not understand each other and they speak different languages. The one thing Brock does like is toasting his crackers in a toaster, until one day he almost catches the house on fire. The near-disaster brings Brock and Todd together and they learn to communicate and enjoy each other’s company.
Building a Birdcage – A STEM Project
When Brock started a fire with his cracker in the toaster he could have burned down Todd’s house, however, Todd saved him. Imagine if Brock’s birdcage was damaged. After reading the book aloud and discussing I asked the students, “how can you build him a new cage with the supplies provided?” I let them know that they could use other supplies that were not sitting out. I told them to use their imagination and think about what Brock would like. Depending on how many students you have this project can be done independently or in a small group. We have a Makerspace room that I can do projects with students and they have free reign of supplies there, however, during COVID I also made kits to send home to the students. Their kits had the basic supplies, but I didn’t send home tape or glue.
A disposable bowl
2 coffee filters
2 rubber bands
10 small popsicle sticks
Beads (they glued these on to decorate their cage)
Small piece of Cardboard
I always have the students do a rough sketch of their plans. Their birdcage might turn out completely different than their original plan and that is okay, but I like them to have a starting point. If they are working in a group after they sketch out their plans I have them collaborate with their group partners.
- No Running.
- Do not touch the end of the hot glue gun.
- If you need help ask.
- No drawing or making weapons of any kind. (even Perler beads or 3D prints)
- Don’t annoy Mrs. Rheingans (lol)
At the beginning of the school year, we go over the rules for Makerspace and how to handle the equipment properly. For 2nd – 5th grade I let them use low temp glue guns and I let 4th and 5th graders use cardboard cutting tools.
There is no Right or Wrong Way
As with a lot of STEM projects, there is no right or wrong way for the students to build their birdcages. The best part of STEM projects is they provide students a place to make mistakes. In our current testing culture, students are afraid to make mistakes. Another benefit is they are able to try things and then come up with a better plan. After all the birdcages are done I have the student or groups fill out a paper that states what worked, what didn’t work, and what they learned. If time allows I think it’s important that every student or group gets a chance to share their work with the whole class. Sharing their project and listening to their fellow students talk about theirs might help them develop better ideas or a new way of doing things.
Sharing the birdcages might be the end of the project for some schools, however, if you have access to a 3D printer you can take it farther. Our students will use theMorphi App or Tinkercad to design their own parrots and then we will 3D print them in the Makerspace Lab. I never know what part of the lesson a student might connect with and that’s the beauty of STEM projects.
I have created a PDF of the Memoirs of a Parrot birdcage activity. This pdf includes a supply list, instructions, and worksheets. If you would like a copy please visit my TPT store.