Articles & Ideas

Fun and Challenging Engineering Projects for ELL Students

Having eBooks in both English and Spanish opens opportunities for rich learning experiences across the curriculum. Here are science projects adaptable for grades K-2 or 3-5, using books from the Fable Learning Spanish Bilingual Collection.


Same book Cover in two languages

Bridges by Seymour Simon

If your class is all Spanish language ELL’s or a mixed group, let the Spanish speakers read “Bridges” in Spanish, either in small groups or pairs on a classroom computer or tablet. Children can hear the text read by a native Spanish speaker while they follow along and see the exciting photographs off all kinds of bridges from around the world. Then, read the English version with the whole class on an interactive whiteboard. Of course, individual children or pairs can read in the language of their choice on computers or tablets, but letting the Spanish speakers experience the book first in Spanish and then in English will give them a secure understanding of the content through repetition and a chance to learn the science vocabulary in both languages. 

Same Book in Two LanguagesLet’s Try it Out: Towers and Bridges by Seymour Simon and Nicole Fauteux, illustrated by Doug Cushman

Then, read the beginning of “Let’s Try It Out” and have small groups try some of the experiments – building a strong foundation, and folding paper in different ways to make a sturdy floor for a bridge. Turn small groups loose with “Let’s Try it Out” and “Bridges” as resources to see which group can build a longer bridge or one that can support the weight of more pennies or small toy people. Both Spanish- and English-speaking children will be able to participate equally in the experiments and the fun of the competition.

For Grades 3-5:  REACH FOR THE SKY!

   Skyscrapers by Seymour Simon

Same bok in Two LanguagesFor this project, the book “Skyscrapers” is inspiration. Read it with the whole class and marvel at the incredible buildings engineers have made around the world. You can have older children do Internet research to find out more details about their favorite skyscrapers.


Same book in two languagesHard Hat Area by Susan L. Roth

Then, let students work in pairs, using “Hard Hat Area” to learn about all the different jobs on a skyscraper construction site. Have each pair choose the job they think would be most exciting or important and make a poster, showing what part that person plays in building the skyscraper and why it is so important. Pairs can share their posters with the class, or you can make the whole class into a construction team by assigning different jobs to groups to cover them all. Your Spanish language ELL’s can do their research in Spanish and review the information in “Skyscrapers” in their native language, while working with native English-speaking partners to do the project. You will be excited to see how getting a chance to see the content in both languages enables Spanish speakers to participate equally with their peers and builds their confidence. 



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