April is both library and kite month, so one of the fantastic members of our Parent Vault Facebook Group suggested that we celebrate with a Benjamin Franklin lesson plan. How brilliant is that idea?! Ben Franklin started the very first public library in America and was said to have demonstrated a connection between lightning and electricity by placing a key on a flying kite. Some people even say that he discovered electricity, but we will learn if that is true or a myth during our reading exercise!
We also have some Benjamin Franklin-inspired electricity science projects like making light bulbs turn on with play dough, creating a battery out of an ice cube tray and using static electricity to separate black pepper from salt! In addition, we have some great reading, writing prompts and free printable math worksheets, including Benjamin Franklin’s favorite – Magic Squares (the original math puzzles, from before the time of Sudoku!!!).
🧪 Benjamin Franklin Science Experiments with Electricity
In honor of Benjamin Franklin’s connection to the field of electricity, let’s do some fun electricity science experiments!
- Perhaps the easiest and fastest electricity experiment is this one, which requires nothing more than pepper, salt, and a plastic comb! You will use static electricity to separate the pepper from the salt.
- If you have a balloon and a grocery produce bag laying around, you can make a bag levitate in the air with this static electricity experiment. Speaking from personal experience, this won’t work well with disposable plastic shopping bags, as they are just too heavy (just a heads-up, so we don’t end up with disappointed kids out there!).
- Or how about building circuits out of play dough?! In this experiment you will make two types of play dough, one that is conductive and one that is insulating. You likely have the dough ingredients already at home (flour, oil, sugar, salt and lemon juice / cream of tartar). You will also need LED pin lights and a battery pack. The good news is that they are inexpensive and can be used to do LOTS of fun science experiments at home! Here’s the play dough circuit instructions!
- If you buy the LED pin lights, then you can do this experiment too, where you light up an LED by building your very own battery out of an ice cube tray!
- If you don’t have time to do your own Benjamin Franklin-inspired science project today, you can watch this great TED talk by one of the creators of squishy circuits. Or this National Geographic video on the science behind lightning!
📚 Ben Franklin Free Printable Book & Reading
PBS produced this brilliant Benjamin Franklin Video that is an “Amazon’s Choice” product with rave reviews for a reason! PBS did a fantastic job of bringing the history of Franklin to life. This is a great supplement to the Benjamin Franklin readings below.
The Franklin Institute has put together this website full of Ben Franklin’s history, explanations of his inventions and discoveries, and other fun activities. Read as many articles as you would like (younger students may need help with this). If you only have time to read one, I would highly recommend this one, which talks about Franklin’s kite and key electricity experiment!
3rd – 5th Grade: Read these passages comparing Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, and then answer the reading comprehension worksheet!
✏ Benjamin Franklin Writing Prompt
Kindergarten – 2nd Grade: After reading about Benjamin Franklin above, print out this kite worksheet to write down two fun facts that you learned!
3rd – 5th Grade: Read over this list of Benjamin Franklin’s Famous Quotes. Pick one that inspires you and use that as your writing prompt! Why did you select the quote? What does it mean to you? How does it apply to your life or the lives of people around you?
🧮 Benjamin Franklin Magic Square & Math Worksheet
Kindergarten – 2nd Grade: Practice telling time (to the hour and half hour) using this free printable Benjamin Franklin math worksheet. Or work on understanding fractions doing this Benjamin Franklin kite activity.
3rd – 5th Grade: You are in for such a fun math treat!!! Magic Squares go all the way back to over 4,000 years ago in China. These fun math puzzles have a magic number, which the sum of the numbers in every row, column and diagonal must add up to. Benjamin Franklin LOVED Magic Squares so much, that he even made his own square that he said was “the most magically magical of any magic square made by any magician.” You can try making your own too!
- First, start with this Magic Square beginners worksheet.
- Next, try to make your own 3×3 Magic Square here.
- Ready for the next level? Make your own 4×4 Magic Square here.
- And, of course, we can’t leave out the 5×5 Magic Square worksheet here.
- Want a super challenge? Try out this Magic Star Puzzle!
- If you want some decimal practice, then try out this decimal magic square worksheet!
🖌 Benjamin Franklin Snowflake Template & Kite Art
- Learn how to draw a kite with Art Hub for Kids here.
- Make a brightly-colored, pop-up kite card to send to a loved one with this tutorial.
- For our older kids (or adults), I absolutely HAD to include these incredible Benjamin Franklin snowflake templates (but they require an x-acto knife to get the best detail). If you make them though, your kids will think you are the coolest!
🤸♀️ Benjamin Franklin the Athlete?
Did you know that in Benjamin Franklin’s younger years, he was actually quite the athlete! He only became the portly figure that we now know him as, after he got bladder stones as a grown up. In fact, one of his first experiments was swimming with a kite to see if he would be pulled by the wind! So let’s get up, stretch and have a brain break with this swimming song and dance!
And the most fun part… share a photo or video of your Benjamin Franklin science experiments, your Benjamin Franklin inspired art (or of any of the other fun activities) on Facebook! Make sure to include a link to this website or to our Facebook Group and Facebook Page, so that we can see it too! I’ve purposefully added a lot of options for parents who need to keep their kiddos occupied for more time and to allow you to cater to your children’s preferences.