The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation

Last updated Friday, November 2, 2018

Author: Gilbert Ford
Date of Publication: 2016
ISBN: 1481450654
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2018

Synopsis: One day, a spring fell from the desk of Richard James, an engineer and a dreamer. Its coils took a walk…and so did Richard’s imagination. He knew right away that he had stumbled onto something marvelous. With the help of his wife, Betty, Richard took this ordinary spring and turned it into a plaything. But it wasn’t just any old trinket—it was a Slinky, and it would become one of the most popular toys in American history.

Note to readers:
•  Today is also College Spirit Day, so please talk to your group about college, share your college stories, and ask them what they think about college!
•  If any of the readers has access to wi-fi, look up the old commercial for Slinky to play for the kids.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a spring?
•  Do you have any toys like a spring?
•  Do you have a favorite toy or game?


•  spring - a resilient device, typically a helical metal coil, that can be pressed or pulled but returns to its former shape when released, used chiefly to exert constant tension or absorb movement.
•  device - a thing made or adapted for a particular purpose, especially a piece of mechanical or electronic equipment.
•  fragile - easily broken or damaged.
•  torsion - the action of twisting or the state of being twisted, especially of one end of an object relative to the other.
•  coils - a length of something wound or arranged in a spiral or sequence of rings.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why do you think so many toy store owners did not want the Slinky?
•  Do you have a Slinky? (today they are usually made of plastic instead of metal)
•  Have you ever used an object meant for one thing for something different?
•  What kind of things can you re-purpose into toys or other useful objects?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a picture of a toy or scene. Make twisted pipe cleaners or strips of paper rolled into springs and attach around the picture to frame it. (See some examples in the book, like picture framed with toothpicks.)
•  Make cutout objects like people and trees. Attach to a larger drawing like in the book.
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!