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This unit study includes lessons and activities based on the book The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.

When the ever-curious Ralph spots Keith’s red toy motorcycle, he vows to ride it. So when Keith leaves the bike unattended in his room one day, Ralph makes his move. But with all this freedom (and speed!) come a lot of obstacles. Whether dodging a rowdy terrier or keeping his nosy cousins away from his new wheels, Ralph has a lot going on! And with a pal like Keith always looking out for him, there’s nothing this little mouse can’t handle.

Thanks to Wende for preparing this The Mouse and the Motorcycle Unit Study.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle Unit Study Lessons

Here is a sample of the lessons found in this The Mouse and the Motorcycle unit study:

Science: Simple Machines
Motorcycles are made of many simple machines. Simple machines working together are called complex machines. Discuss these different simple machines with your child:

Wheel – Wheels help things to move, by rolling instead of dragging, making it easier and quicker to move. A motorcycle has two large wheels that it rolls on. Do this experiment with your bicycle to see how much farther and faster you can travel with wheels: First, take two large steps on foot and measure the distance. Then, get on your bicycle, starting with one foot at the top, push your foot all the way down and then all the way up. Did you go farther taking two steps by foot, or two steps on your bicycle? This shows how much farther and faster we can go with the use of wheels.

Axle – An axle is another simple machine. It is the shaft on which a wheel is mounted and on which it turns.

Gear – A gear is a type of wheel with teeth. A motorcycle has a large gear that is driven by a chain that fits into the teeth. As the chain turns the gear, the gear turns the rear wheel. This makes the motorcycle move.

Lever – Levers help your muscles as if they were stronger. Levers can be short or long. They can be curved or straight. Sometimes two levers are used together, such as a pair of pliers, and other times they can be used by themselves, such as a long stick used to pry on something. The longer the lever, the more “leverage” you have. Motorcycles have “brake levers” that you squeeze to stop the cycle, and “gearshift levers” to change the speed of the motorcycle.

Looking at a picture of a motorcycle, or his bicycle, have your child locate the wheel, gear, axle, and lever (if applicable). If you have K’nex or other building toy, have your child use these simple machines to build a complex machine.

Math: Miles Per Hour (MPH)
Motorcycles have an instrument called a speedometer that tells you how many miles per hour (MPH) you are moving. Have your child figure out the following problems, and also make up his own to test you:

  • How many minutes in an hour? (60)
  • If the motorcycle is moving at 60 mph, how many miles does it move every minute? (1)
  • If a motorcycle is moving at 30 mph, how many miles does it move every minute? (1/2)
  • How fast is the motorcycle going if he travels 25 miles in half an hour? (50 mph)

Math: Odometer
Motorcycles have another instrument that tell them how many miles they have gone, called an odometer. Discuss the distance of a mile. (5280 feet) Ask child how many feet are in a half mile. (2640) How many feet in a quarter mile? (1320) Have your child guess how far away certain familiar points are, such as the grocery store, playground, etc. and have your child watch your car odometer as you drive. See how accurate his guesses were.

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How to Get Started with the The Mouse and the Motorcycle Unit Study

Follow these simple instructions to get started with the The Mouse and the Motorcycle unit study:

  1. Buy a copy of the book, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, or grab one from your local library.
  2. Print the The Mouse and the Motorcycle unit study.
  3. Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
  4. Enjoy a week of book-based learning with your student.

Download Your The Mouse and the Motorcycle Unit Study

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