STEM activities are often preparation and time intensive, which can be a deterrent to doing them. Tied 2 Teaching has created an series of projects and activities that are easily within reach of the average educator (home or otherwise) and as extensive as you want them to be. STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading is a downloadable product that includes 12 months worth of STEM projects.
We received a zip file to download that included over 60 different projects. Each project was in its own file once it was unzipped and that made it super easy for the girls to browse through to find what interested them. Each STEM activity has a download that can printed. There are 21 pages to the download but you do not need to print them all, which is really nice. You get:
- cover pages and introductory information
- a page that gives the link to the Wonderopolis page where the close reading passage is found (You can alternatively go to the page and then do a search for the title of the reading passage but I found the link to be super easy to use.)
- one page for the reading passage with questions designed to check reading comprehension and understanding
- A couple of pages later you have a simplified version of the challenge.
- a page that has some examples of student work on the challenge, in case you need some ideas (because let’s face it – sometimes the adults need it!)
- a black-and-white page that you can print stating the challenge, the standards the project must meet, and the allowable materials, as well as a couple of questions about the final product
- four different choices/levels in black-and-white printable pages to help the students plan projects
- four additional printable options/levels for the students to evaluate and improve upon their projects
- The final page is a letter to parents telling them about the challenge and encouraging them to recreate it at home.
So, what are the challenges like? We have done several. Take a look!
Love Bug Challenge – To create a love bug of your own design with whatever materials you can find. Two of the girls took on this challenge and loved it. The reading passage had to do with fear of bugs. Then they created their own bugs. They share them in a videos.
Design A Balloon Tower – Create a tower using balloons and masking tape. Miss J did this one on her own, though she enlisted the whole family to blow balloons for her. The reading passage had to do with balloon animals. There was even a video or two to view.
Design a Building Block Tower – After reading about the Eiffel Tower, they create a tower with blocks. This was a fun one to do at a birthday party working in teams. We actually did this one as a race and all the kids loved it. Here is one of the towers. The other fell down at the last minute.
Jelly Bean Tower – Miss J was only allowed to use jelly beans and toothpicks. The reading passage was related to the making of jelly beans. This was a tasty one to have fall down.
Sugar Cube Arch – After reading about how much sugar is too much, Miss J used icing and sugar cubes to create a free-standing arch. It was created a couple weeks ago and is still standing strong!
Marshmallow Snowman – Create as tall a snowman as you can. We read about marshmallows in the close reading passage.
She has several more of these that she has already picked out to do.
These projects have been inexpensive. I think we spent two dollars on balloons, a buck on jelly beans, and that is it for these five challenges so far. For most of the others we already have the materials. I love this!
I would love to see some challenges created where there was also an additional link to further their learning, maybe after the challenge. For example, with the arch created from sugar cubes – the close reading passage was about too much sugar. I like that connection. After the project, when the students have evaluated what worked and what didn’t on their project, I would love to see it taken a step further. Connect a link to a video about what makes a strong arch or a similar close reading passage about arches. Then have an option for the students to do a trial number two based on the new information. This would be a wonderful option to add to each of these challenges. We did this exact thing – extended the learning by discovering more about arches and tying it into learning about arches we did a while back – and it was a powerful tool.
Miss J’s thoughts – I LOVED IT! These were so much fun and I loved doing them. We just read a paragraph and then got to do a project. And the projects were so much fun! I want to just do more and more!
So Miss J is recently turned 10 and, in case you can’t tell it, she is a huge fan of these. Tied 2 Teaching has hit the nail on the head for my hands-on, project-loving, energetic, creative-thinking youngest girl. I do believe she has learned a lot from these projects and there are plenty more for her to continue working with. She definitely recommends these! And so do I.
Lori, At Home.
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