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Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  349 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Every inventor has to start somewhere, and one of the greatest innovators in our history was no exception. Ben Franklin developed his first invention while doing what he loved best: swimming! Ben's Big Splash is the story of Franklin's first invention, his journey through the scientific method, and the surprising successes that result when you're willing to make mistakes. ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Calkins Creek
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Rating details
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Yes. Ben Franklin. Swimming naked. Inventing Swim Fins well kind of. Always been a Franklin fan. And in my kid's biography of him I remember him swimming naked and being pulled by a kite. But I don't remember swim fins. A great fun book. And a great take on one of my most favorite historical figures.
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Ben Franklin grew up the son of a soap maker and loved to spend his free time on summer days swimming in the river near his home. In the time of his childhood, people just did not swim or wash regularly because they thought it would make you sick, so Ben was considered rather odd for the amount of time he spent in the water. As he swam, Ben started to wonder why it was that fish swim so much better than he could. And so Ben starts to come up with inventions that would help him swim like a fish. ...more
This is a fictionalized account of Franklin's first invention, based on a letter written by Franklin 50 years or more after the event took place. The author includes the relevant part of the letter in the after matter. It is a description enlarging the brief mention by Franklin of the invention of swim fins. One of the big points being made was that Franklin was not satisfied with the invention, not that he considered it a failure. He just kept at it until it was successful. The scientific metho ...more
Lively text and humorous comments make this exploration of the early years of Ben Franklin sparkle. Many young readers just might draw inspiration from Franklin's example as he fashions wooden fins for his hands and feet to help him swim better. The author imagines that he used fish as the models for his very first invention. I liked the enticing action verbs and participles that the author uses to describe Ben's approach to water--and to life--and how his imagination seemed undiminished when th ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Barb Rosenstock and S. D. Schindler created a brilliant and enticing #PBOOK about Ben Franklin and his young years when he came up with his first invention.

Young readers will enjoy learning the history behind him.

Filled with many fun facts that are relateable to kids today from something as simple as swimming.

Published by Calkins Creek.

If all the history books were written like this, I would have wanted to learn more about history.

Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their older children
interesting quote:

"Most kids might have felt sad, ashamed, or stupid. Instead, this smart, stubborn son of a soap-maker simply thought he'd made a mistake -- and wouldn't stop seeking, studying, and struggling until he SUCCEEDED." (p. 23)
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classroom-use
I really enjoyed this story as a memoir of one part of Ben Franklin's life that might not be very well known. Sometimes with historical figures, we think of them just in terms of their adulthood or what made them famous and forget that they were just people like the rest of us. I think for many students some of these historical figures can be very difficult to relate to and a story like this makes Ben Franklin accessible and then other information about him becomes more interesting. I also loved ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I would give this book 3.5 stars. I found it to be a fascinating story about the young Ben Franklin who began inventing from a very early age. As far as anyone knows, the first items he invented were these wooden plank-like devices that he could attach to his hands and feet to make him move more quickly through water. It is not known, but likely, that fast moving fish in Boston's Charles River were the inspiration for these ideas. Though Leonardo Da Vinci and Giovanni Borelli had drawn swim fin ...more
A glimpse at young Ben Franklin, as he pondered, wondered, imagined, and dreamed of ways to make life better and easier. As many kids do, he used his carefree days and filled them with swimming and playing...yet, all the while he was thinking, thinking, planning, and dreaming of inventive ways to add joy.

Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention hopefully will have kids thinking of their own big first invention...and find a way to make it come true.

Includes Author
Viviane Elbee
This is a fictionalized account of Ben Franklin’s first invention - swim fins.

It’s probably best for elementary students due to the length.

The back-matter at the end explains the “true” parts and the author’s “unverifiable” elements, which is great for discussing truth vs. fiction.

Good for classrooms studying science & inventions, historical figures (Ben Franklin) and English class - there’s great use of alliteration and the S sound.

Kids enjoyed it.
Oak Lawn Public Library - Youth Services
Title: Ben Franklin’s Big Splash
Author: Barb Rosenstock
Lexile Level: 1070L
Pages: 32
Recommendations & Comments: This is a cute picture book that has some great non-fiction information including a detailed timeline. Hopefully the message of being yourself will resonate with readers. It’s a fun book that shares a story of a famous person when they were a kid.
Stars: 4 out of 5
Reviewed By: Emily K.
Pat Salvatini
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio2-4
Benjamin Franklin is such an interesting subject matter to read about. This "mostly true" story allows younger students to realize that before Benjamin was the famous writer, publisher, scientist, statesman, politician, and inventor they all learn about he was simply Ben. A young boy who liked to sneak out work and head out for a swim. Rosenstock may have used a a Franklin letter as her inspiration but she leaves readers a bit of inspiration too.
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An energetic, slice-of life story about how Ben Franklin's first invention-- swim paddles. He didn't give up when they didn't turn out exactly as he hoped. A primary source document in the author's note demonstrates his growth mindset--always striving to make his inventions better, not considering himself a failure.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
As an 11-year-old, Ben invented some swimming paddles. The story emphasizes how he thinks and refines, as a true scientist does-no failures, just revisions. Most people, even sailors in Boston did not swim at that time.
Includes time line, quotes, notable activities, author's note, sources.
Teachers will discover multiple uses.
Monarch Nominee 2018
A wonderfully fun book celebrating Ben Franklin's spirit of invention. Ben loved to swim and was determined to swim like the fish---inventing swim paddles and sandal. Celebrates the design process and the spirit that attempts are not failures, but a road for improvement. Don't know if I could use it for a read aloud though--Ben didn't wear swim trunks, and I think the giggling would be ceaseless!
Kelly Mahoney
This was a really inspiring story about the spirit of invention and creativity, and could easily be shared with kids from elementary through middle school. This book definitely has a place in collections of schools and organizations focused on creation culture, perseverance, and grit. The quotations, author's note, and timeline are nice touches.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Somehow I either forgot or never learned that Franklin was an avid swimmer. It doesn't surprise me in the least, though!

I liked the story as a whole, and the combination of a historical "event" (ish) combined with the science of hypothesis and research and experimentation.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: monarch-2018
The subtitle describes this story well: The mostly true story of what may have been Ben Franklin's first invention. Positive message.
Very interesting! I had no idea that this was his first invention! I also like all the added info at the end. All of the scenes were very detailed. Monarch 2018 Nominee.
This book was a good book on the importance of determination and a growth mindset.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
Fun for kids and adults. ;)
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great message of never giving up on your imagination. I never knew that the majority of people didn't know how to swim during this time period. Great introduction to the scientific method for juvenile readers. Ben didn't care what others thought of him and kept trying. This book illustrates the message of perseverance perfectly.
Miss Pippi the Librarian
Ben Franklin's Big Splash is fictionalized telling of one his first invention - swim fins and swim sandals. When he swam in the local river (Boston's Charles River), he observed the fish and the way they moved in the water. Ben wondered if he could create something that would help him move as fast as fish.

I listened to Ben Franklin's Big Splash while paging through the printed version of the story. The pacing was done very well. There are no page cues, but pauses between pages so readers can tur

Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of his First Invention tells the story of how he attempted to invent swimming paddles for hands and feet as a child growing up in Philadelphia.

It begins with the story of how he loved swimming, which was unusual for that time period. Observing the fish around him he thinks about how to make swimming faster and easier, and finally his eureka moment- swim paddles! The story ends with his semi successful invention but also his determination to keep
Susan Brown
Today we are going to read one last book on inventions. This one is called Ben Franklin’s Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of his First Invention. You might have heard about the main character—Benjamin Franklin. Who can tell me why he’s important? He helped the United States become independent from England and was a famous scientist. So, do you think this book takes place in our time? No, it’s from a long time ago. Let’s look at the cover page. How old do you think Benjamin Franklin is i
Kayla Pleasants
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
I stumbled upon this book while looking for engaging biographies to read aloud during our third grade biography unit, and this one fits the description. Ben Franklin's Big Splash is a great picture book and read aloud for students 2nd grade and up. It goes through the story of Ben Franklin before he was a well known inventor. It takes the reader into the life of Ben as a young boy and introduces him as a questioner of life (isn't every good inventor?) The question that really started his first i ...more
Monique Isaak
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
While doing what he loved most, Ben Franklin discovered his first invention. Ben Franklin had a love for swimming. Aside from many others, he enjoyed spending time in the water. Overtime, he became curious and wondered why fish could swim faster than humans. He created swim fins for his hands and sandals for his feet that allowed him to swim more quickly. The author creates a text that stands out. In the story, the author uses several different words beginning with the letter S. This is a great ...more
Taylor Hartman
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Copyright: 2014
Number of pages: 32
Book format: print
Reading level: 1-5; GR level T
Genre: fiction
Lit requirement: Monarch Award nominee 2018

In Ben Franklin's Big Splash, written by Barb Rosenstock, we are introduced to a young Ben Franklin before he was known for being a great inventor. Ben enjoys swimming in the river, but everyone thought he was crazy. He did not pay any mind to anyone, but he soon started to question why can the fish swim so easily and fast. This is when he came up with his f
We all know that Ben Franklin invented many things and was an instrumental part of our country's history. This picture book biography covers Franklin's very first invention as a boy. Franklin loved to swim even though people at that time generally didn't. He invented swim paddles and sandals to make swimming easier and more fish-like. While the invention wasn't successful it did illustrate the use of the scientific method.

The information on this invention was taken from a letter Franklin wrote
The extended title of this book says "The mostly true story of his first invention", so I guess this isn't exactly non-fiction, but there is also extra back matter about Benjamin Franklin's life, including a timeline, and it is based on a true story. The story focuses on one invention mentioned and that is swim fins. Ben Franklin loved to swim, and even growing up, he was always asking "what if", and what is written as his first invention is "swim fins." The story integrates some other bits of ...more
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