Sam and the Construction Site, by Tjibbe Veldkamp, illustrated by Alice Hoogstad (Lemniscaat, 2015)

Sam and the Construction Site coverWhat the book’s about

Sam watches construction vehicles from behind a chain link fence, dreaming of trying them out—until one day he’s asked to keep an eye on the site while the workers are at lunch. When older boys dare him to break the rules and venture onto the site, Sam winds up saving the day with his keen powers of observation and newfound driving skills. There are lots of details in the illustrations of this empowering story for readers to find and discuss.

Two Activities and a Jumpstart for ages 3-8, by Jessica Young


Activity One: What Would You Build? (ages 4 and up)

Kids discuss construction vehicles and their roles, then draw their own buildings to make a cityscape.


  • Drawing paper
  • Markers or crayons


After reading the book, ask kids to guess what the construction vehicles in the story might be building. Ask them to share any visits they’ve made to a local construction site. What would they build if they had their own fleet of construction vehicles? Invite them to create their own buildings on paper. Drawings can by displayed together to create a group cityscape if wanted.

Extension: If there are toy construction vehicles available, park them under the display of drawings.

Activity Two: Construction Site Mural (ages 4 and up)

Kids create a mural of a construction site, drawing their favorite construction vehicles.


  • Large drawing paper or mural paper
  • Markers or crayons


After reading the book, ask kids to brainstorm types of construction vehicles and discuss which construction vehicles they like the best. Invite them to make a group mural of a construction site, each contributing a different construction vehicle to the scene.

Extension: Cover the mural with black construction paper with large holes cut into it to emulate how some construction sites are walled or curtained with viewing windows for passersby. The “curtain” can move to reveal new parts of the mural every day.

Jumpstart: Scoop, Dump, and Roll (ages 3 and up)

Read the book and discuss the roles that various construction vehicles play at a construction site. What action words can the group name to describe what different constructions vehicles do? With each suggestion, ask the group to make motions to go with the word. (For example, “scoop” like an excavator by raising a cupped hand, “dump” like a dump truck by leaning/tilting the body, and “roll” like a roller by moving one hand over the other in a circular motion in front of the body.)

After the motions are established and practiced, kids stand in a circle and take turns directing the group to perform a series of different actions. This can also be played as “Sam Says” (like the game “Simon Says”), with kids sitting down if they perform the motion without the leader saying “Sam Says” before the direction is given.