Curious kids everywhere have always pondered how they might get a real-life glimpse of mythical creatures they’ve only heard about. And since 2016, author Adam Wallace and illustrator Andy Elkerton have offered readers some help via their bestselling How to Catch series of picture books. Each adventure blends wacky humor and rhyming stanzas with STEAM-based tips for constructing the perfect elaborate trap for such elusive characters as leprechauns, dinosaurs, or the Easter Bunny. To date, more than 12 million How to Catch books have been sold across a product line consisting of 16 picture books, three My First How to Catch board books and several tie-ins.
Now the How to Catch series is set to feature in a new initiative for elementary school educators: Sourcebooks will launch its inaugural How to Catch STEAM Week on November 7, running through November 11. While kids tend to enjoy the books’ silly factor and magical characters, Shara Zaval, associate director of marketing and publicity at Sourcebooks, noted, “Teachers love them because they’re great teaching tools―for vocabulary lessons, writing lessons, and design thinking activities, since the How to Catch kids design and build traps in every story.” Zaval also spoke about why the time seems right for this kind of program. “We believe STEAM is the perfect tie-in,” she said. “It incorporates the ways that teachers already use the books and fills a need in the classroom―many educators are looking for STEAM resources for their students. Plus, November 8 is National STEM Day, so we’re building off a moment that many educators already celebrate every year.”
The Sourcebooks team has created a week’s worth of Common Core-compliant, STEAM-themed activities based on the How to Catch books, including Write a Story, Create Your Own How to Catch Creature, and Design Your Trap. Teachers and school librarians who sign up for the program will receive a packet containing suggestions for how to use the various printable activities and how to run an optional How to Catch STEAM Fair (similar to a classroom science fair) during which students can show off the creatures and traps they have created. A classroom sign, printable banner, and student certificates of completion are also part of the set. The first 25 teachers or school librarians to sign up will receive a How to Catch STEAM Week banner, and the first 500 educators to sign up will receive a How to Catch-themed design thinking poster for their classroom.
Participating educators will also have an opportunity to enter a sweepstakes to win $1,000 for use on future STEAM projects for their school. To enter, educators can post a photo or video of their class participating in How to Catch STEM Week on social media using the hashtag #HowToCatchSweepstakes and tagging @sourcebookskids. Each unique, qualifying post from an educator or school account posted between November 7 and 18 will be entered to win. “It was important to us to support educators who wanted to create engaging STEAM programs in the future,” Zaval said of the contest.