Learning with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

This post may contain affiliate links.

This week we read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton.  Here are some of the fun activities we did:

  • Went to a construction site and watched houses being built.
  • Made a chocolate cake with Mike Mulligan (a teddy graham), Mary Ann (a small red digger toy, closest I could find to looking like a steam shovel), crumbled Oreos for dirt and more teddy grahams for the people watching Mike Mulligan and Mary Ann dig the cellar for the new town hall. (Found this idea here.)
  • Used a tea kettle to make steam, held a mirror in front of the steam.
  • Measured stuff.  We started with squares, like the cellar Mike Mulligan dug, to understand the concept of four equal sides and four equal angles.  We just so happened to be doing “farm school” that day, wherein we brought our school stuff for the day to the local farm where we have a share of produce.  The most fun thing we measured was Elmer, the pot-bellied pig. He is 17 inches long by 9 inches high.
  • We talked about the literary element of personification, how Mary Anne has a face and feels happy and sad.  Firefly drew a personified Wii remote control with attached nunchuck and named it Scott.  This was silly and fun.
  • You can find some more awesome ideas for rowing Mike Mulligan here.


Making steam from the tea kettle to a mirror.