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How Machines Work: Zoo Break!

Last updated Friday, November 2, 2018

Author: David Macaulay
Date of Publication: 2015
ISBN: 1465440127
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2018

Synopsis: Follow the mad antics of Sloth and his sidekick Sengi as they try to find their way out of the zoo with the help of machines. Their efforts are brought to life through novelty elements including pop-ups, pull-outs, and lift-the-flaps, allowing readers to explore in greater depth how and why machines work.

Complete with a unique jacket with an interactive compound machine incorporating several of the simple mechanisms featured in the book, How Machines Work: Zoo Break! uses models and illustrations to demonstrate the technology of six simple machines: levers, pulleys, screws, inclined planes, wedges, and wheels.

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!
•  This book has a lot of moving parts and flaps to open. This will probably work best with small groups working so they can look at the pages together.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you think animals like being in the zoo?
•  Who do you think is doing most of the work in this story?


•  See Glossary on page 28.
•  sloth - a slow-moving tropical American mammal that hangs upside down from the branches of trees using its long limbs and hooked claws.
•  inclined plane - a plane inclined at an angle to the horizontal.
•  wedge - a piece of wood, metal, or some other material having one thick end and tapering to a thin edge, that is driven between two objects or parts of an object to secure or separate them.
•  fulcrum - the point on which a lever rests or is supported and on which it pivots.
•  lever - a rigid bar resting on a pivot, used to help move a heavy or firmly fixed load with one end when pressure is applied to the other.
•  gear - one of a set of toothed wheels that work together to alter the relation between the speed of a driving mechanism (such as the engine of a vehicle or the crank of a bicycle) and the speed of the driven parts (the wheels).
•  pulley - a wheel with a grooved rim around which a cord passes. It acts to change the direction of a force applied to the cord and is chiefly used (typically in combination) to raise heavy weights.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever had a pet that was good at getting out of its yard or enclosure?

Craft ideas:
•  Make cut outs of tools like Sloth & Sengi use in the book.
•  Draw or cut out a sloth and attach it to a branch.
•  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!