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Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions by Don Wulffson

Teacher Guide by Elizabeth Pedro

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Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions

Student Activities for Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions Include:

The information text, Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions by Don Wulffson, relays the history of toys and unusual stories behind the world’s most popular toys.

Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Compare/Contrast Toys

In this activity students will compare and contrast three toys: playing cards, bicycles, and hot wheels. A short summary of the origin of each toy is provided for each of these toys.

  • Playing cards were invented by the Chinese a thousand years ago. In 1450, a new version of playing cards were created by royalty, and the face cards were created.
  • Bicycles developed from the kiddy-car; handlebars, footrests, pedals, and brakes were added one by one resulting in the modern-day bicycle for males and females.
  • Hot Wheels were created by Elliot Handler, a founder of the Mattel Toy Company. A development team created exact replicas of real model cars, just one sixty-fourth of the original size.
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Frayer Model Graphic Organizer for Key Vocabulary in Toys!


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In this activity, students demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary words using a Frayer Model. After choosing a word, students provide a definition, characteristics, examples (synonyms), and non-examples (antonyms) of the word. Students may be provided the vocabulary words, or they can use words that they have discovered through their reading of the text.

This example uses the word “evolve”:

  • Definition: to develop or change gradually
  • Characteristics: "All in all, the bicycle actually evolved from the kiddy-car."
  • Examples: grow, mature, unfold
  • Non-examples: leave, stop, diminish, lessen

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a Frayer Model for one of the vocabulary words from Toys!.


  1. Choose a vocabulary word and type it into the center title box.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary and enter it into the description box under Definition.
  3. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the Definition cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  4. Think of at least three characteristics that help expand the meaning beyond the definition.
  5. Provide written and visual examples of the word.
  6. Provide written and visual non-examples of the word.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Using Text Evidence


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In this activity, students will be provided a question or prompt to answer using textual evidence. The prompt here is, “What effects have toys had on the world?”

The three examples provided include: inspire others, evolution to new toys, and unexpected fun.

  1. The British and Germans were inspired by Whitehead's remote-controlled weapon and recreated it.
  2. Toy trains began as wagonways and then evolved into floor-runners, wind-up toys, steam-powered, and finally electric power trains.
  3. Three thousand years ago dolls were for the dead; however, over time they became popular for the living and are now sold with accessories and books.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that answers the prompt using at least three examples from Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions. Click on "Add Cells" to change the number of examples.


  1. Type the question into the central black box.
  2. Type a response to the question in your own words in the title box.
  3. Think about examples from the text that support your answer.
  4. Type text evidence in the description boxes. Paraphrase or quote directly from the text.
  5. Illustrate each example using scenes, characters, items, etc.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Integrating Information

In this activity, students will integrate what they have read in the “Toy Soldiers” chapter in Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions, and use the article, “Can you believe bubbles made the Toy Hall of Fame?” (Link is listed below.) These articles discuss toy soldiers and action figures, but have differing ideas about the toy.

Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions

  • Toy soldiers have been used by kings and czars for years; in 1962 G.I. Joe captured the toy soldier world, followed by other action figures, and Star Wars characters.
  • "Kids usually collect action figures for only a few months. And then along comes the next action figure who for a time, becomes the 'latest and greatest.'"

“Can you believe bubbles made the Toy Hall of Fame?”

  • "The tiny green army pieces have been around since 1938. Their popularity waned during the Vietnam War. But they became big-screen stars with the 1995 Pixar movie 'Toy Story.’"
  • These toys remain popular because they are lightweight, cheap, "But most of all because they inspire open-ended play."

See article: http://tweentribune.com/article/tween56/can-you-believe-bubbles-made-toy-hall-fame/

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A Quick Synopsis of Toys! by Don Wulffson

The revised and updated, Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions, includes 32 popular toys, their inventors, and the histories on how they came to be. Interesting historical and cultural information is intertwined with silly facts and humorous drawings. Toys included in this book are Lego©, Mr. Potato Head©, the Slinky©, Raggedy Ann©, Monopoly©, Wiffle Ball©, and Super Ball©.


Essential Questions for Toys!

  1. What impact have people made through their inventions?
  2. How have toys evolved over time?


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•   (English) Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions   •   (Español) Juguetes Historias Asombrosas Detrás de Algunas Grandes Invenciones   •   (Français) Jouets! Histoires Incroyables Derrière de Grandes Inventions   •   (Deutsch) Spielzeug! Erstaunliche Geschichten Hinter Einigen Großen Erfindungen   •   (Italiana) Giocattoli! Amazing Stories Dietro Alcune Grandi Invenzioni   •   (Nederlands) Speelgoed! Amazing Stories Behind Sommige Grote Uitvindingen   •   (Português) Brinquedos! Histórias Surpreendentes por Trás de Algumas Grandes Invenções   •   (עברית) צעצועים! סיפורים מדהימים מאחורי כמה המצאות גדולות   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) ألعاب الأطفال! قصص مذهلة وراء بعض الاختراعات العظيمة   •   (हिन्दी) खिलौने! कुछ महान आविष्कारों के पीछे अद्भुत कहानियां   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Игрушки! Удивительные Истории за Некоторыми Великими Изобретениями   •   (Dansk) Legetøj! Amazing Stories bag Nogle Store Opfindelser   •   (Svenska) Leksaker! Fantastiska Berättelser Bakom Några Stora Uppfinningar   •   (Suomi) Leluja! Amazing Tarinoita Jotkut Suurista Keksinnöistä   •   (Norsk) Leker! Amazing Stories bak Noen Store Oppfinnelser   •   (Türkçe) Oyuncaklar! Bazı Büyük Buluşların Arkasındaki İnanılmaz Öyküler   •   (Polski) Zabawki! Niesamowite Historie za Wielkimi Wynalazkami   •   (Româna) Jucarii! Povestiri Uimitoare în Spatele Unor Invenții Minunate   •   (Ceština) Hračky! Úžasné Příběhy za Některé Skvělé Vynálezy   •   (Slovenský) Hračky! Úžasné Príbehy za Niektorými Skvelými Vynálezmi   •   (Magyar) Játékok! Amazing Stories Mögött Nagy Találmányok   •   (Hrvatski) Igračke! Iznenađujuće Priče iza Nekih Velikih Izuma   •   (български) Играчки! Невероятни Истории зад Някои Големи Изобретения   •   (Lietuvos) Žaislai! Amazing Stories Už Puikiai Išradimai   •   (Slovenščina) Igrače! Amazing Stories Behind Nekatere Great Izumov   •   (Latvijas) Rotaļlietas! Amazing Stories aiz Daži Izcili Izgudrojumi   •   (eesti) Mänguasjad! Amazing Stories Behind Mõned Suured Leiutised