Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Balloons Over Broadway - Thanksgiving Floats STEM Challenge

We had a crazy two days before Thanksgiving Break!  The kids loved making Thanksgiving floats for this STEM Challenge!  We started by reading the picture book, Balloons Over Broadway, by Melissa Sweet.  This book talks about how those huge floats came to be used in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade!


We also watched a few videos on-line so students could see the different floats!  Many of my students had never seen them before and they were so amazed!

Students then got assorted styles of balloons, plastic balloon sticks, and tape so they could work as a team to make their own floats!

Here are some of their ideas!
If you are interested in purchasing this fun STEM challenge, click here!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Making STEM Challenges More or Less Difficult

I often get asked how to make STEM challenges more or less challenging for students of different ages or abilities.  This is actually a pretty easy thing to do (meaning you can do it yourself without much trouble)!
1.Decrease or Increase the Supplies
       One of the easiest ways to make these challenges easier or harder, is to alter the amount of materials used.  Think about how much harder a challenge becomes with a limited amount of tape!  If students are struggling, increase supplies to make it a little easier for them.  You can make these decisions at the beginning or even during the challenge!
2.Add a Timer
       Challenges become a lot trickier if you have to get them done in a specific amount of time.  Most challenges take intermediate kids about 45 minutes.  What if you reduced that time?  If kids are struggling, you can give them more time!
3.Give them a Second Chance
       Sometimes students need a second chance at a challenge!  Give it a little time and then let them try out a challenge that they really struggled with a second time.  Most of the time they will do really well during their second chance!

Time to get engineering!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Creepy Carrots

This is such a FUN challenge to do in the month of October!  We started by reading the book, Creepy Carrots.  It is adorable!


This Engineering Design Challenge is based on the picture book, Creepy Carrots!, by Aaron Reynolds:

Can your group create a fence that will contain a creepy carrot using the fewest number of craft sticks?

Materials: (per group)
Whole carrot (variety of sizes works best)
Sheet of cardboard (as a base)
Craft sticks
Tape and scissors
Yarn 






The kids had a BLAST with this challenge!  The winning team only used 13 craft sticks!  Click here to purchase the challenge!

Ugly Pumpkins

Who doesn't love a great picture book?  The Ugly Pumpkin is one of my fall favorites!


We read this book in class and then talked about the different themes in the book.  Students made their own Ugly Pumpkins that showed some emotion.


Students were able to come up with a ton of great themes for the book and they loved the end of the book when the Ugly Pumpkin says, "Oh my gosh!  I'm a squash!"



Here are our Ugly Pumpkins!  Aren't they the cutest things!  Click here for a great TPT pack using this book!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Have You Used Bouncy Bands Yet?

Do you have kiddos that need to move a lot?  These may help you keep your students focused and ready to learn, AND they are quiet!


My kids often used them by pushing against them with their feet.  I was amazed at how much my kids loved these bands!  I will definitely be purchasing more for my classroom!  If you want to grab a few for your classroom, I have a discount code (10% off) you can use until the end of September. The code is SMARTCHICK.  Just go to the Bouncy Band website!

You can even order these using Donors Choose!  Click here for a resource page to help you get started!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Connecting Math and Literature - Measurement

Throughout my years of teaching, I continue to observe that kids really respond to literature in all subject areas.  I have been working on connecting more and more of my introductory math lessons with picture books and I have noticed great results and engagement from my students.  I am also working on adding more lessons with literature throughout the math units as well.

For measurement, which always seems simple enough but is really pretty tough, we start with the book, Measuring Penny, by Loreen Leedy.  I read the book aloud to the class and then we talk about some of the different measurement topics in the book as we go through it.  This book is about measuring a pet dog, so my kids love it.  This book is a perfect way to introduce the idea of standard and non-standard measurements.  Here are a few of the books we use throughout our measurement unit in math!


In our classroom, I always put up a bulletin board for the unit we are studying.  In front of the bulletin board is a table where we keep manipulatives related to the unit as well as a basket of related books. During our silent reading time each day, students can always reread these books, which a lot of them choose to do.

I am working on making these book math labs into activities in my TPT store.  Here is the first one...



This math lab pack includes a bulletin board set for measurement as well as the two page lab pack to go with the book.  It is a great way for students to practice measuring with both standard and non-standard measurements using stuffed animals.  Click here for a link to this $2 math pack!  Stay tuned for more to come!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Building Bird Nests - STEM Challenge

During our Bird Unit, we have been really busy!  Between science labs on bird beaks and a bunch of different writing and project assignments, we have also been doing a lot of STEM challenges related to birds!  One of the best activities we did was building bird nests with natural items we picked up outside during our nature walk!  The nests had to hold a certain number of eggs.  Students could not use glue or tape in their construction!



They all ended up doing amazing jobs on this challenge, with each student building their own nest! You can pick up this great STEM pack in my store if you want the lab sheets, or you can just have your own kids make bird nests!  Click here if you want to grab this pack for $2!


Time to get building!
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