KinderGals: August 2018

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

EASY STEM Activities to Begin the Year

I recently joined forces with Kim Jordan to present at the I Teach K conference in Vegas.  Our session was about integrating STEM and Story Time. Here are some of my thoughts about STETM and some of the activities we shared.

STEM is an acronym for

What is Stem?
STEM is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real world problems.
During STEM children apply technology, engineering, science and mathematics as they make connections.
In story time STEM, we want the children to identify the real world problem in the story, and…use science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, to suggest possible solutions.
This also teaches text to real world connections.
There are 5 Steps in the STEM process:
1.Define the problem and research.
2.Design your plan.
3.Build your plan.
4.Test your plan.
5.Improve your plan.
One help organization tip is to create your STEM stash. Here is our we organized ours.
Here are some great EASY STEM activities to begin the year.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a great place to start with STEM activities because it is so easy. First, we want to be sure children can identify the problem in this story...the tree wasn't strong enough to hold the letters! That means, the STEM challenge becomes, "Can you build a tree that will hold all of the letters?"
Depending on the time of year, or the age of the children, invite the children to complete the recording page. You may find it easier to enlarge and talk about it together!
Another great place to begin the year is with Family! In this book, "If the Shoe Fits", the old lady is looking for a place for her family to live. It is a take off of The Old Lady Who Lives in the Shoe.  Again, we ask, What is the problem? In this story, the old lady can't find a house big enough to hold all of the children.  That means, the challenge becomes, "Can you build a house that is big enough to hold the kids?"
 Since family is usually an earlier unit for us, I wanted to keep it simple. I just used folded and unfolded index cards and invited the children to build a house to hold the Lakeshore Kids.
 This was a fun craftivity that we did to record our steps for the STEM process!
Another unit that I usually do in the fall is Farm. In this delightful book, Who Sank the Boat?, the animals get in the boat and eventually the boat sinks. The problem, the boat will not hold all of the animals, is defined. Then, the children are challenged to build a boat to hold the animals? To keep it simple, they had only foil. I used gutters (like you put on your house) to make places to float the boats.  On the back of the animals I taped pennies...the largest animal with the most pennies and the smallest animal with the least pennies.
 We made this fun craftivitiy to record the steps of our process.
 Another great book for farm is One Duck Stuck.  In this story the duck is stuck in the mud and the animals are trying to figure out how to get him out! This is a super SIMPLE way to make pulleys with young children.  I printed a farm scene and placed it on top of a piece of foam board.  The children used spools and toothpicks to make the pulley. Then, we tied pieces of string to the ducks, wrapped the string around the spool, and pulled!
 You can't do a farm unit and not visit the Mrs. Wishy Washy series.  In Wishy Washy Day, the animals are hiding from Mrs. Wishy Washy because they do not want a bath!  To solve the problem, how to keep the animals where you can find them, the children used playdough, popsicle sticks, and pipe cleaners to build fences.  I gave them plastic animals to add inside their fences.
 Then, in our booklet, the children recorded the different STEM steps we used to solve the problem.
 Then, we made this fun Mrs. Wishy Washy to hold our booklets!

Kim and I recently published a unit, Storytime STEM,  that contains these and other STEM Activities.
This unit provides lessons for you to incorporate a STEM activity with your read aloud. The first few pages give an overview of the steps you will need to take to successfully incorporate real world problems, identified in the literature, into a STEM activity.

There are 10 different selections of literature included:

The Three Pigs

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

If the Shoe Fits by Allison Jackson

The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler

Who Sank the Boat? By Pamela Allen

Aaaarrghh! Spider by Lydia Monks

One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root

Gorilla Loves Vanilla by Chae Strathie

Wishy Washy Day by Joy Cowley

Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman

For each book, there is a step by step guide to help you navigate through the activity. Color photos for each STEM activity are included as well. This will help “see” the activity in action.  Necessary recording pages, reproducibles, and craftivities for each activity are included.


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