When I was in elementary school, I remember we participated in a competition where we were encouraged to come up with an invention that would solve a problem. We had to do research, create a plan and present it for a chance to win a prize. The competition sticks out clearly in my memory. Not only was it an opportunity to solve a problem we faced in our lives, but we were told that we, as young kids, had the power to create life changing inventions. I think that is such an important message for kids, so today I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce you to a wonderful author and her fun series of books which share the same vision!
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The Li’l Booger Buddies is a book series written and illustrated by Heather Konet, a mom and an automotive engineer who has 20 patented inventions to her name. Her love of inventing and creating lead her to create these fun characters and the world they live in. Li’l Booger Buddies Inventors From Outer Space is the first book in the series and it introduces readers to the Li’l Booger Buddies who live on the Planet Boogie Woogie, and love to invent. They are curious creatures who use the “space junk” they find around their planet to create inventions that solve problems in their every day lives.
Li’l Booger Buddies Inventors Help Out a New Friend follows the winners of the yearly invention contest as they go on their journey through space to find more items for their inventions. When they come across a seemingly deserted planet, they meet a lonely creature who was left alone. They decide to bring him along with them. However, they need to come up with an invention to alter their spaceship and make room for him. This story shows how working together to solve a problem can result in a great invention that helps others.
In Li’l Booger Buddies Inventors Go To School, the reader follows the youngest Li’l Booger Buddies as they begin attending Invent School. Their teacher walks them through the steps of inventing, and little Roogie follows these steps to create her first invention. I really like how the story and illustrations clearly outline the steps of the invention process. The author also uses situations that young kids can understand. Her invention is a simple one, but it solves a problem she sees in her life. This is a great way to show kids that inventions can be small things that make a difference.
I had the opportunity to talk to Ms. Konet about her books!
What inspired you to write these books?
I started thinking about writing books several years ago when I was looking for STEM themed books for my kids and had a hard time finding books that introduced STEM concepts but were also fun and not overtly instructive. Since I was a teenager I have been drawing goofy Li’l Booger Buddies characters, and one day I got the idea of using my characters to introduce inventing. Inventing is a topic that I have a lot of experience with, so I thought it would be fun to pair the two together.
You have over 20 patented inventions. Did you create your inventions to solve a problem you were facing like the characters in the book?
I have been working in the Automotive industry as an Engineer since 2000, and as part of my job I create new designs to solve problems. Each of my inventions are intended for solving a different problem. For example, one of my inventions is for a system that makes quiet Electric Vehicles easy to hear for visually impaired people who need the sounds of vehicles in order to move around as pedestrians.
What do you hope young kids will get out of these books?
I hope that the books help kids realize that anyone can be an inventor. I also hope that when they notice an issue or problem in their own worlds that they start thinking about what they can do or build to solve it. The Li’l Booger Buddies also encourage kids not to be wasteful when they create new things by reusing and recycling materials.
Did you like inventing things when you were younger?
I have been interested in drawing and building ever since I was a little kid.
Did you have a teacher who supported your dreams?
Yes, my Mom is a retired teacher and she is the one who started getting me interested in drawing and creating. She always did crafts with me and encouraged me to build things with scraps around the house. That was a big confidence booster early on. Teachers are the best!
Bring the Li’l Booger Buddies to life!
Printable Invention Journal – Encourage kids to become inventors and solve problems around them, just like the Li’l Booger Buddies! Print out the free Invention Journal and staple it together or glue it into a notebook. Have them look around and find problems that need to be solved. They can write these down on the problems page.
The next page in the notebook gives them space to brainstorm some ways to solve each problem. The last page offers space to draw their invention and list any materials they would need. Ask them about their ideas and if they think they could actually build it. Encourage them to use items from around the house to come up with solutions.
Play Boogie Ball – Get that energy out with a round of Boogie Ball, just like the characters in the story! Roll up balls of masking tape and give kids a set amount to start the game. When the game starts, have kids run around tossing them onto each other. When everyone runs out of “boogie balls” to throw, count up who has the least attached to them, and declare them the winner!
Review the Invention Process & Practice Sequencing!
Sequencing Practice – Understanding sequence of events is an important skill for kids to learn, and the invention process is a great way to practice this skill. Li’l Booger Buddies Inventors Go to School outlines the steps in the invention process in a way that makes sense to kids. Print out these sequencing cards and cut them out or create your own out of index cards. Have kids put the steps in order, either while you read the story or afterwards.
Reminding kids that they can make a difference in the world is so important. Empower them to be creative and use what they have to invent solutions to the problems they see around them!