Friday, February 07, 2014

Robots vs. Aliens!: Second Grade Outreach

As I've mentioned before, this year we've piloted in Grade School Menu. While I'm currently immersed in Hella Busy No Sleep, I want to make sure I don't get behind on documenting my programming and giving you (and future me) School Tools 4 Days. Luckily enough I just recently wrote out the script for the Second Grade Outreach: Robots vs. Aliens!

Robots vs. Aliens works for 2 reasons: 1) everyone has an opinion on this debate and 2) the kids decide who wins. I patterned the idea after the Shark vs. Train Story Action Pod I made, but fleshed it out into a 30-45 min program

(I feel the need to stress that if you're going to try elementary outreach, in order to get teacher buy-in you're going to have to be able to promise 30 min door-to-door. That way you can be in and out in that magical time period between lunch and math, or during lunch and recess, or after Special Areas but before the bell, when the teacher actually has the time to do a fun activity. If you happen to be scheduled on a Friday with no spelling test, however, for instance, you may be able to stretch it out to 45. Have a craft or game ready if you get that extra time.)

Here's how Robots vs. Aliens! works:

The GIF I got for "Robots v. Aliens"
** Intro about how you're from the public library and everything about the public library is awesome. Obviously.
1. Take an "uninformed" poll: have kids raise hands if they think Robots or Aliens are better.
2. Read "Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot" by Margaret McNamara and Mark Fearing. When you're done, take the poll again. If you notice there are more aliens this time, ask what changed their mind. Call on one or two kids TOPS.
3. Read Robot Zombie Frankenstein by Annette Simon. Acknowledge before reading that the first book was rather "pro-alien" and we want to make an informed decision by hearing both sides of the story.
4. Announce that it's time for the final vote. Make everyone close their eyes before taking a raised-hand poll. Write the final numbers on the Official Tally sheet. Have everyone open their eyes.
5. Who won our vote? Tell the kids the final numbers. Who won? How do they know who won?
6. Pass out (or leave with teacher) I Voted stickers.
7. Silent dance for celebration!

The above should take 30 minutes exactly. If you're given more time (settle this up beforehand so you can bring supplies), introduce a craft:
"It’s okay if your favorite didn’t win. We’re going to make a craft now and you can make EITHER an alien OR a robot! We have paper to draw on, and some other stuff too. Two special pieces (show the eyes, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, etc) per person please! And ONE of these (foam pieces)."

If your teachers have trepidation because they feel pressure with pacing guides and the Common Core, you can adapt this activity or use it as it lead in to help practice Grade 2 standard CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.D.10 by asking the final question using a bar graph, or having the students create a graph to represent the data.

Also, throughout the read aloud, I don't know any librarians who don't help school age kids practice CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.3 and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.6. So there's that.

Ready to bring out Robots vs. Aliens?


  1. Have you tried reversing the order of the books to see how the results differ?

  2. I have not! I chose the order because the first book is longer so it makes for a good flow, as the kids expect both books to be the same length and I find it better to surprise them with a shorter book than let them get fidgety. You're welcome to try though and please let me know!