Genius Hour Book Idea

The library tech at our school recently showed me a book new to the library. This book hadn't even been catalogued yet but I knew I was in love and had to have it! The ideas were swirling around in my head about how I could use this book in my classroom. I knew within minutes it was going to be my "kickoff" book for Genius Hour. We have been working along on our Genius Hour since December but are only now planning our next steps after deciding on our topics.  Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds is the perfect book to introduce the students to inquiry and thinking beyond the regular way of doing things.  It is a great book to celebrate creativity.

The story starts with Rafael and other students in class when the teacher announces the Going Places contest.  They were all going to get the same building kit and once they had built their go-cart there would be a race.  Rafael is a conscientious  student so he works very hard on building his go-cart EXACTLY like the instructions tell him to.

Rafael goes next door to see how his friend May's go-cart is coming along. Maya hadn't started and was busy watching a sweet bird in the yard and sketching. The next day she had built a contraption that somewhat resembled a bird.  She explained to Rafael that the instructions hadn't said it MUST be built that way. She had thought of a better way.  The instructions also hadn't said that they MUST work alone.  Rafael and Maya team up! Soon the race was on. Rafael and Maya were criticized by their peers for not conforming.

...until they fly up in the air and win the race!

At the end of the book they land their plane right at the foot of a large lake. Rafael sees a startled frog as they land.  Rafael and Maya ask each other:  Are you thinking what I am thinking?

This is a great place for asking students for predictions.

This picture ends the story.  Rafael and Maya build a frog-based contraption to go over the lake!  It is great to see that Rafael begins to get inspired by what he sees. He starts observing his world which inspires him. I always tell students that their best writing ideas come from their own experiences and observations.

This would also be a great springboard for a Part 2.

In our class, we read this book as a whole class assignment. I type out the words and we read it in small sections each day. After each section we visualize what the story is about and write the main ideas and supporting details.  We also draw what we think the image look like that match the words in our own minds.  When we've finished the whole book text we read the actual book.  It's amazing how accurate the images are to the author/illustator's interpretation of the words.

After we read this book we discussed how ideas can form and change over time just as our Genius Hour topics will. 


  1. What an awesome book to inspire kids and adults! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I agree Erine! Thanks for popping by my blog!

      :) Shelley


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