National Inventors’ Day provides us with an opportunity to honor inventors of the past and inspire the creators of the future. On this National Inventors’ Day, we are focusing on Black inventors who created inventions that we see and use in everyday life. We are also sharing a handful of activities you can do with your little inventor.
Inventors and Their Inventions Discussion
- Ask your child to share what she thinks an inventor is and what an inventor does.
- Once you know your child’s definition of an inventor, you may share more information about inventors and what they do.
Inventor: A person who invents, especially one who devises some new process, appliance, machine, or article; one how makes inventions.
Garrett Morgan: Inventor of the Traffic Light
In 1923, Garrett Morgan invented the traffic light. Cars, bicycles, horse-drawn vehicles, and pedestrians all had to share the same road. It was often quite dangerous. Morgan’s traffic signal was the first to feature three commands instead of two, which controlled traffic more effectively.
Create Your Own Traffic Light Art Project
- Paper plates
- Black paint
- Black, red, yellow, and green construction paper
- Paint a paper plate using the black paint.
- Once the paint dries, cut the paper plate in half.
- Glue each half onto a black paper rectangle; cut into proportion to the plate.
- Cut circles out of the red, yellow, and green construction paper and glue onto the rectangle.
Look and Cook – Traffic Light Snack
- Graham cracker
- Cream cheese, peanut butter, or sun butter
- Banana—halved or apricot—halved
- Kiwi—sliced or green grapes—sliced
- Look and Cook – Traffic Light Snack Printable
- Break graham crackers into individual rectangles.
- Spread your cream cheese, peanut butter, or sun butter onto one side of the graham cracker.
- Place one strawberry at the top.
- Place your banana or apricot in the middle of the graham cracker.
- Add your kiwi or green grape at the bottom of the graham cracker. Enjoy!
Red Light, Green Light Game
- Define the playing area with a starting line and a finish line.
- Start with everyone along the starting line.
- When you say ‘Green Light’, everyone will move towards the finish line.
- When you say ‘Red Light’, everyone must immediately stop.
- If players are still moving when you call ‘Red Light’, they must go back to the starting line.
- Start a new round when everyone gets across the finish line or when most players make it across the finish line.
Phillip B. Downing: Inventor of the Modern Day Mailbox
Phillip B. Downing invented the street letter drop mailbox with a hinged door that closed to protect the mail. He invented this mailbox in 1891, and the design is still used today. It protects mail from theft and poor weather conditions, and it lets people mail letters without having to walk to a post office.
Create Your Own Mailbox
- Empty box
- Blue construction paper
- Craft materials – stickers, crayons, etc.
- Cover the box with blue construction paper.
- Write US Mail on the box.
- Decorate with craft materials.
- Cut a hole in the mailbox, so your child can place envelopes in the mailbox.
Pretend Play With Letters
- Homemade mailbox
- Paper, notecards, and index cards
- Pencils, crayons, and other writing materials
- Bag or purse to use as a mailbag.
- Begin by having your child write letters on paper.
- Once the letters are written, your child may place each one in an envelope.
- Your child may place the items in the mailbox or place in the mailbag and deliver to others (stuffed animals, family members, neighbors, etc.)
Twist on this Activity: Write an uppercase letter of the alphabet on each envelope. Write a lowercase letter of the alphabet on an index card. Ask your child to match the letters and place them in the mailbox.
Alfred L. Cralle: Inventor of the Ice Cream Scoop
In 1897, Alfred L. Cralle, an American businessman and inventor, created the ice cream scoop. He invented the ice cream scoop when he noticed ice cream servers having a difficult time trying to get ice cream into ice cream cones. His invention is still used today.
Ice Cream in a Bag STEAM Activity
- 1 quart-size sealable plastic bag
- 1 gallon-size sealable plastic bag
- 1 cup light cream or half and half
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ice cubes
- 1/2 cup salt (Kosher or rock salt)
- Ice Cream in a Bag STEAM Activity Printable
- Measure the creams, sugar, and vanilla extract into the quart-size bag. Zip it up tightly.
- Fill the gallon-size bag with ice. Add the salt. Put the sealed smaller bag inside. Now zip up the larger bag.
- Shake and shake the bags to make ice cream! It will take about 5 minutes until the cream hardens.
- Take the smaller bag out of the larger one. Eat the ice cream right out of the bag!