4 Amazingly Simple STEM Challenges to Tackle First

Are you tackling STEM this year? Will this be your first foray into a STEM challenge?

Take a look at the photo below! Y'all, that is one of the best STEM challenges we complete! It's an exploration into the ingredients of pancakes and we actually cook them and taste them and do it over and over until we make the perfect pancakes. I cannot tell you how much kids love this one!

As much as I love this challenge, I will tell you the truth. I would never recommend that you start with this one. It's messy, busy, chaotic, messy, super engaging, messy....get it?

But I can recommend some super simple and easy challenges for you to start your year with. These are perfect for training your kids with STEM procedures and getting them acclimated to STEM Class!

Cooking in the STEM Lab! Kids experiment and then design the perfect pancake!

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3 Kid-Tested Ways to Conquer the STEM Planning Step

It's Back to School time and you know what that means.... brand new, never-used crayons, new clothes, and lots of new sneakers.

One year I watched all my new students filing in and noticed the array of new shoes. Later, in the day I had them all stand in a circle and I stood on a desk to take a photo of just their shoes (and legs). It was a great picture to add to my newsletter!

Now, I am just like you in knowing that the beginning of the year is a time for planning, planning, planning....... and my goal with a few blog posts this month is to help you get going with STEM.

Today's post is about planning- but not your planning. It's the planning procedure we use in STEM class.

BTS STEM Series #2- It's all about a planning procedure for your STEM Groups!


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It's the Great Barbie Bungee Jump Challenge!

Once upon a time, I had two teenagers. And like all moms and dads of teenagers or young children, we would jump in the mini-van and zip off to vacation destinations. Now, I have a confession. We are not beach people, but we would still end up at a Florida beach. Which means bungee jumping and go-cart rides. Yeah, I know, but we are not beach, sand, sun, ocean people. So we went to drive go-carts. I have a photo of my daughter driving one at the age of four! 

Anyway, one year the two teenagers decided they were big enough to bungee jump. I have that video somewhere, too. They both clung to a giant red tube and stepped off the ledge to bounce up and down while screaming. Sounds like fun, right! 

Actually, it sounds like a STEM Challenge!

This post is jam-packed with deliciousness All About Bungee Jumping!
It's a Bungee Jumping STEM Challenge! This one is full of math and testing and using data and kids LOVE it!

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There is No "I" in Team!

If you are a teacher I know how you are spending some days late in July and early August...

You are planning and decorating your classrooms! What is your favorite part of the new year?

Mine was always getting my class list and finishing all the labels and setting up desks and just getting ready for those kids to come on the first day. Part of my first few days of school had to be about community building- it's those relationships you nurture right from the beginning that make your year the best.

Now, as a specialist, I still do those same things!  I still focus the first few classes on team building. 

Team Building Games for the beginning of the school year! (Or all year long!)
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Some Stories Stay with Us Forever

Think about it for a minute....what book pops into your mind immediately that just stuck with you for a long time. Even now when you are thinking about that book you can see the characters and remember events in the book. The heartbreak. The sadness. The joy.

Whatever it was. It still resonates within you. The power of the author's words. For me, the book that popped into my head was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. If you have not read that one, you should. Today.

But first, check out my reviews for this month!


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Shipwrecks and Jolly Pirates and First Grade STEM!

What can a shipwreck, a tough pirate, and a jolly pirate do for your STEM class? Good question and I am going to show you exactly what these sweet little picture books can do to get your class going with sailboats! Ships ahoy!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon passes tiny amounts on to me- if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!
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Can You Hear Me Now? (A STEM Challenge)

This tower idea was hatched after talking with some students that love to build towers. They requested just a box of materials and time to just build a tower. Well, as much as that sounded like fun, I also thought there should be a reason for it. Then two days later I happened to see a row of satellite dish devices lining the back of an apartment complex. Every balcony had one and some had two! I thought, "Why doesn't that apartment complex just have one big satellite dish or tower that everyone can access?

BAM! New Stem Idea!
STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!

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A Little Inspiration from the Grand Canyon

Two summers ago we had a chance to visit the Grand Canyon! There are no words to describe this marvel that would be adequate enough to tell you. We flew from Las Vegas to the south rim and just that flight was amazing. Then we boarded a helicopter and flew into the canyon itself. One minute we were skimming over the countryside and the next we were dipping down into the immense canyon. Breathtaking! I took a lot of photos to share with my students because I wanted them to experience this same phenomenon!

If you ever get a chance to go, leap at it! It's a glorious part of this world of ours!

In the meantime, what can you do in your classroom to help students learn about the earth's landforms? Well, of course, I had to invent a STEM Challenge...but there is more!

I have several ideas for you!
  • Put together booklets showing the landforms.
  • Create models of the landforms.
  • Practice with task cards!

Landform Booklets

Many years ago I started having my third graders make booklets about the landforms. I put together copy paper and construction paper and stapled down the center. For each page, the kids drew a landform and then wrote about it. This was a major project!

Create a booklet showing various landforms. Includes a poster set for the landforms and all the parts you need!

Then I started making copies of the booklet pages with clip art in place. This worked so much better. Trust me, having students draw and write about 15-20 landforms was a lengthy project.

Create a booklet showing various landforms. Includes a poster set for the landforms and all the parts you need!
Those copies worked and I also added a poster set to the process. This gave the kids the correct colors for their booklet pages. (Now, when I do this project I print the pages already in color!)
Create a booklet showing various landforms. Includes a poster set for the landforms and all the parts you need!
We added a gorgeous cover to this and created a bound booklet. It's a great little project and the best part is that we kept those booklets in our desks and used them as a reference for the remainder of the school year!


Landform Models


STEM Challenge: Create a model showing various landforms. Label each and be sure they logically can be placed side by side.
This STEM Challenge is just one of the best we have tried- for creative purposes. Students must create a model of a specific number of landforms and label them. What makes this perplexing is that some of the parts are side-by-side so the kids must determine which landforms can be right next to one another. I mean, would you expect to see a glacier beside a desert?

STEM Challenge: Create a model showing various landforms. Label each and be sure they logically can be placed side by side.
The most fun part of the challenge is adding the details! Can you see the sand being poured in the photos? That is for the coastline and beach! We just used sand as if it were glitter! It worked great! 

In the end, we had some great models and kids were able to practice their understanding of the landforms by creating them! Total fun!

Task Cards


Task Cards for practicing landforms. Images, photos, and more!
One last perfect way to practice this skill is by using a task card set! What we loved about this set is that we had clip art images, but I also added some photo images of the landforms. The pictures were just amazing and the kids loved using this set!

This makes a great study! If you need more information about any of these ideas you can click on the images or on the titles below! And, don't forget, put the Grand Canyon trip on your bucket list!


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What Do You Do with Books that Stink?

This month brought many books my way, including several I just could not finish. It is always such a struggle to give up on a book. Think about it, books sometimes start out slow and then turn into fabulous reads. When I do give up I always hope I am not missing out on something. But when the book stinks- who has time for that? What do you do when you just don't like the book?

 I did find some great books to share, including this quote from one of them:
 "I try to imagine what it must be like, not being able to access the words and memories you need to say what you think."
Oh my, I had to sit and think about that for a while. The thing that resonated with me about that quote was about reading. What must it be like to be unable to read? To see the words, but not know what they say. More later about the book the quote came from!



















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Perimeter and Area Made Easy with STEM

Have you ever hung wallpaper? If you have then you know a very simple truth. You have to understand the measurement of the area to get the right amount of paper for your walls! To make it even more complicated you have to deal with matching the wallpaper patterns so it usually requires figuring for extra lengths. It's a nightmare.

I have hung a lot of wallpaper and my favorite part is not the measuring. I love creating the corners and wraparound parts. It's great problem-solving! Speaking of problem-solving, have you ever hung plaid wallpaper? Let's not even talk about that, okay!

Let's talk about kids and measurement! Especially perimeter and area!
2

The Great Flood Barrier Experiment (Which was Successful)!

I had this wild idea one day that involved kids and water and flooding. It seemed like a great idea and after some disasters we finally made this work. And, to be honest, it turned out to be pretty spectacular!
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A Fascinating Book Inspires Tower Building

Need a sure-fire way to grab the attention of your students? The lines of a recent book we read just snagged us!
"First come rumbling flatbed trucks, bundles of steel on their backs, like a gleaming endless river surging through the concrete canyons of Manhattan."
Wasn't that just delicious! The figurative language all by itself just makes a teacher's heart sing- but it's about building a skyscraper! And let me tell you, my little engineers sat up straighter when they started seeing the pictures of this book!
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Simple, Engaging, and Fun Science Flip Books!

One of the things I miss most about having a regular classroom is making booklets with kids. One of my favorites with third graders was a text features booklet we made every fall. The kids created pages for a list of about 25 text features and we poured through old textbooks to find samples of each feature. They cut out the samples and glued these into their booklets. Now, here's the best part! We used these booklets for the rest of the year! Anytime we completed a nonfiction reading we pulled those booklets out to find the features in our reading selections. So fun!

Now that I am a specialist I don't have those booklets to complete anymore...
Or do I?

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When a Book Makes You Gasp...

There is a moment in some books where you blink and say, "What!" And you re-read or re-listen to that section because the book takes a turn you didn't see coming. Isn't it stunning!

This month's selections just might have those moments, so take a peek! Some are surprises and one is pure heartbreak.
Book Reviews! Five fabulous books- some with "What?" moments! Check the blog post for details!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon passes tiny amounts on to me- if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!
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Summertime STEM Projects That are Great All Year!

A few years back (okay a lot of years) there was a theme park in Nashville called Opryland. This was the closest park we could get to and it had a fabulous section of kid's rides and even some of the adult rides were tame enough for our children. The kids especially loved the water slides. One was called a "log flume" and you sat in a passenger car that resembled a hollowed-out log. This thing ran along a track and then dropped down a huge slide to splash at the bottom. Just what I wanted- being drenched and still having to walk around a park. But on those hot summer days, it was the best thing ever for my children. (And cheaper than the lemonade.)

So, let's talk about summertime fun. Theme parks, parades, swimming pools, fishing, and carnivals. Kid heaven, right? It is and kids love these projects in the STEM lab, too. We have three we have completed that all mimic a theme park ride- roller coasters, water slides, and Ferris wheels.

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How Tall Will Your Stack Be?


Give a group of kids a stack of cups and see what happens. Go ahead..... I'll wait.

So, what did they do? They built pyramids or tall stacks racing to make the tallest one- only to find the slightest movement would cause the whole stack to fall!
STEM Challenge: This is one of our favorite lab events- It's all about stacking cups, but also calculating mean, median, mode, and range! The math is used after stacking competitions and is great for group work. Practice those skills, have some fun, and learn!
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Reading and STEM - The Perfect Partnership

Have you ever read a book to your first graders that included a sing-song chant they could repeat? (Think Pete the Cat and his new shoes....) Once the kids get the rhyme down pat they will repeat it everytime you get to that part. I also had this happen with There Was an  Old Lady That Swallowed a Fly. And, let me just tell you, it is purely fun to hear the kiddos giggling through those rhymes and chants.

So, I knew when I read this month's book that we would all love this it! And, of course, we'd have to invent a STEM challenge to go with it! It's Reading and STEM- a perfect partnership!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon passes small amounts on to me- if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!

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Why is This Tower Project the Best Ever Challenge?

One of the best challenges you can try in your STEM class is one we have done over and over again. This one is a kid-favorite and a teacher-favorite. There are several reasons you will love this challenge, but I will let a fifth grader explain it better.

"Oh man, our tower was, like 30 cm tall, and then we saw one leg buckling, and we knew it was over. The whole thing crashed. We gotta rebuild, but I have another idea!"

And, by the way, when I inquired about the new idea I was told that they noticed the buckling tower leg and knew those sections needed to be built differently. Folks, this is what it means to learn from your mistakes! And that is just one of the reasons this the best ever challenge? Keep reading!

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Do You Love the Girl in Distress Books?

Are you a girl in distress?
I mean, the most stressful thing in my life is when I can't find the coffee flavoring I like.....
It seems, however, that today's authors use a lot, I mean a lot of girl in distress plots...keep reading!

There's a story behind this month's book reviews.

I was standing in the fiction section of Target recently and looking over the popular books. Do you know how many of them have the word "girl" in the title? LOTS! Ever since Gone Girl we have been bombarded with female lead characters in some kind of turmoil and a never-ending fast-paced escapade to get out of trouble. Mind you, some of those books have been good! In fact, I think my favorite of all was....well, I won't say right now because I have some new ones to share this month!

 I have a list of them at the bottom of this post that I can say are great books in this "Girl in Distress" genre! And, just maybe I will tell you my favorite!
Book Reviews! Five books described that you need to read!


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5 Proven Ways to Add Magic to Your Classroom

It's never a good idea to step into a classroom without clear, ready lessons. But, one day last fall it happened. I knew we were going to build a treasure box, but I really needed a way to set this up. I immediately thought of a pirate book! The book I was thinking about is a Mem Fox book and I didn't have a copy. So, I went to the bookshelf and pulled out a book randomly and a new challenge was born. Dare I say it worked like magic?

That's right- magic - just like pulling a rabbit out of a hat! I promise this technique worked and it will work for you, too. It's so simple.
  • Read a picture book.
  • Laugh about it and mention parts in particular. (More about that later.)
  • Tell kids what they will build.
  • Use materials you already have.
  • Share! (Be sure you have a sharing time at the end of the building time!)

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Why This Might be the Perfect STEM Challenge

The fabulous marshmallow bridge challenge is the perfect STEM activity. This is one we have repeated so many times and each time is a little different. The things that stay the same are the reasons it is so perfect.
  • The materials are easy.
  • Prep work takes about 2 minutes.
  • The engineering design process is evident.
  • We use blueprints!
  • Kids love it.
Take a look!

Let's talk about prep work and the materials first.

I will tell you the truth. Always. Sometimes, preparation for STEM challenges is time-consuming and involves cutting, gathering, determining a way to dispense materials, planning for management of the class during the time, and so much more. I have a post about Pancake day that will give you more details about all of that. But, if you are like me, you sometimes need something you can throw together quickly and easily and maybe even leave with a substitute.

The marshmallow bridge is the answer! It takes two materials and I have a secret way of getting those ready. The kids need a specific number of toothpicks and marshmallows. 
STEM Challenge: Easy prep and easy materials and great fun!
SECRET: I don't count those materials. I just give each group a cup full. In all the times I have tried this challenge the kids rarely ever run out of either material, so I don't spend time counting toothpicks!

Can kids draw a blueprint?

You betcha! They are excellent at drawing their ideas. What I have also found intriguing is what happens when you insist they use those blueprints.
STEM Challenge: Kids use a blueprint to construct a bridge! Easy prep and easy materials!
Look at the team in the photo above. Their structure is exactly like the blueprint! Check the one below, too!

STEM Challenge: Kids use a blueprint to construct a bridge! Easy prep and easy materials!

In the photo below, the bridge is spanning the distance across a plastic shoebox. This is a new tactic we tried recently. These bridges cannot span a very large opening and the width of the plastic container was the perfect distance!
STEM Challenge: Kids use a blueprint to construct a bridge! Easy prep and easy materials!

Kids love this challenge!

Another honest thing I can tell you is this: marshmallows are sticky. So, we have learned to keep wet washcloths at our tables.This helps clean off sticky fingers and spots on the tables. Even with this little problem kids love this challenge. The group in the photo below was doing a perfect job following their blueprint and I overheard this comment,

"This is so easy! I'm about ready to start building the sides of the bridge."

They were so excited and their bridge looked great.
STEM Challenge: Kids use a blueprint to construct a bridge! Easy prep and easy materials!
Moments later I snapped the photo below. The whole bridge collapsed!

STEM Challenge: Even when the bridge collapsed kids kept working to complete this STEM challenge!

Remember in the beginning of this post I mentioned this challenge is the perfect STEM challenge. Here's one more reason I say that. After that bridge collapsed, the student holding it said,

"I knew I should have doubled those toothpicks. Here, help me hold the sides in place so I can start reinforcing these spots!"

They didn't give up. They went right back to work and kept making adjustments until their bridge was finished.

It doesn't get much better than this! Perfect!
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7 Unusual Things About Seeds That You Need to Know

When I was a little girl my Popaw had a farm and every spring he plowed his fields with a wooden plow pulled by a mule. One summer he planted so many watermelon plants that he later had to have neighboring farmers come and help gather them with pickup trucks. That was the same summer he told me not to swallow watermelon seeds.

"Young'un if you swallow these little seeds a watermelon plant will grow in your belly."

I believed him and I would rake those seeds out of my slice of melon and leave a pile on the picnic table. I found out later that he would save those seeds and plant them the next spring. Sweet memories!

We have several seed challenges that we love so much and some unusual ideas about them that we learned. (More about my Popaw later.)

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5 Doom and Gloom Books That are Amazingly Good

Have you read Where the Red Fern Grows?

In that book, there is a scene in which a beloved dog dies and it is heartbreaking to read. You will cry.
However, the sweet, sweet ending of the book, when the red fern blankets the graves of the dogs, is the most poignant ending ever. I have never made it through the last three chapters of this book without crying. Yet it is one of my all-time favorite books and I have read it aloud to children so many times.

So let me just say, all of this month's books in this review have a death involved with the main characters. But, don't think this is all doom and gloom.

The books are all different and you will love this selection!

This month I have some chick books, a historical novel, and a crime drama. 
In this post, for your convenience, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon compensates me if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!

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How to Use One Simple Material for a Highly Engaging Challenge

When I was a very little girl my parents lived in Germany and to this day I can remember traveling to Italy in a Volkswagen Beetle. You know, those super tiny cars called VW Bugs? Well, we drove across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and into Italy to see Rome. On the way, we stopped in Pisa and saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Many years later we went back, this time in a station wagon, with my grandparents, and we saw the leaning tower again. A vivid memory of the breathless climb to the top was holding my Popaw's hand all the way. What a remarkable thing that was! A farmer from Alabama hiking to the top of the Leaning Tower! This iconic tower is, of course, one my students of today always visualize as we begin to build a tower.

One of the first STEM challenges we ever tried was tower building. The kids loved it so much that I started planning more tower building events. We have tried towers with many different materials - like spaghetti, toothpicks, and even penny-toting buckets!

One of our all-time favorite towers is the Index Card Tower.


You will love this one, too because of....
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How to Get Rid of That Junk in Your Classroom

If you are like most teachers I know -  you save everything.
I am pretty sure you know what a junkyard is, but how about a junk car?
Let's just say it like this- a car made of junk. Now, how is this going to work, you ask. Stick with me for some hints and tricks as we tackle a STEM challenge using junk you already have- which will help you get rid of some of it, too!

STEM Challenge: Build a car using basic materials and a little bit of junk.
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A Breakthrough That Will Help You Plan for STEM

I promise your planning is going to be so much easier with this revelation I found with planning and my youngest engineers!
It's almost like peanut butter and jelly! Books and STEM just go together! It's the greatest discovery ever. Let me share some ways that you can try today!

This is another set of five books and five STEM Challenge ideas that you can do with your first and second graders with materials you already have in your classroom!
Kids love this approach:
Read a book, talk about what they can build inspired by the book, and then build it!
Take a look at this month's books and challenges!
Throughout the post, for your convenience, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon compensates me if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!
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3 Sure Fire Ways to Engage Your Kids for Earth Day

Yes, there were leaks! Yes, we made chocolate goodies. Yes, I made 10 jello pans.
This is STEM! 
And it was fun. Maybe, the most fun ever, but you can decide after you read the part about the jello...
But, I can promise you this: Your students will be totally engaged in these activities!
STEM for April and Earth Day- including Solar Ovens, Earthquake Resistant Buildings, and Water Pipelines!
In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon passes tiny amounts on to me- if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!


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How to Conquer Pencils in the Classroom!

Disappearing pencils, No-Name papers, Germs, and more! Can these classroom scary things be conquered? Yes, with a little help from Pinterest tips!

Do you love Pinterest? What about Pinterest fails? I know there's a whole section of Pinterest boards just for things people have seen and tried and made a mess of! It's actually quite funny and meant in good spirit!

Anyway, this post is about Pinterest things I have tried and THEY WORKED! And, in some cases they worked very, very well!
Fabulous classroom Ideas from Pinterest that Really Work!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon passes small amounts on to me- if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!

5

Are You Part of the Books You Have Read?

"I wonder what kind of sound it would make if I were to smash this glass against the side of his head."

Seriously, how could you not keep reading if that is the opening line?

Which one of the books in this review do you think that quote came from? See if you can tell from the descriptions I have given you!

I love adding this Book Review to my blog every month. I am a reader, always have been, always will be. I was that kid in the classroom the read while the teacher was talking and kept a book ready to carry with me wherever I went.  I also love reading about books people have read and can recommend.

So, here you go- these are all GREAT! It was a five-star month!

Book Reviews! Check this blog post for book reviews. Five new ones, including "Everything, Everything"!
Throughout the post, for your convenience, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon compensates me if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!

1

The Enormous Crocodile and a Slippery Slide

"I like to eat nice juicy children," says the Enormous Crocodile. Nothing like that line to get some kids to raise their eyebrows, or laugh. Mostly they laugh. It's one of those moments in a read aloud book where the kids are hanging onto your words and soaking them up like little sponges-- until they actually realize that the crocodile in the story is trying to have children for lunch. What a fun little book (really, the kids know it's all in fun!)

Well, anyway, you know I love to turn a fabulous story into a STEM challenge! This one was perfect for building slides.

Building slides in first grade STEM with straws and craft sticks. Total fun after reading a picture book!

1

Practical Advice About Building Windmills in the STEM Lab

Years ago my husband and I built our dream house. At the time, ceiling fans were popular and we decided to place these in many of the rooms. Would you believe three of them are still operating and have been turned off very few times? I am talking 25+ years, ok.
Still Turning! More about this later...

So, just imagine for a second challenging your students to create something that turns.......
STEM Challenges that all use wind power! This includes windmills, wind cars, and wind boats! Check this blog post for more!
Let me clarify....turning by using the wind. And, by that, I mean a fan!
I have two different sized fans that we use in the lab when we need to create air movement.
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When I was Five and More STEM Ideas!

"It was like herding cats!"
That was my answer to my husband the other day when he asked how my day had gone. Seriously, the days I have first and second graders are just hard- fun, but exhausting. That is until I found the SECRET to STEM and the littles!
Reading and STEM together! Here's a blog post suggesting five picture and five STEM challenges you can complete today!

Are you ready for the secret to STEM ideas for your first and second graders?
These are easy. They use materials you already have.
BEST OF ALL..... they all involve reading!
7

Help with Informational Text in Your Classroom

I'll admit it- I was that elementary teacher that made all kids read and write fiction. Fiction. And, in the back of the room, there was always that one little third grader whose face would fall when I announced another fiction writing exercise because what really needed to come out of my mouth was non-fiction, informational text, research, writing about real things.
Blog post about informational text features and how to use them with reading selections and task cards! Check the post for more!

Well!  I have a treat for you today with this post! It's all about informational text- which I usually call non-fiction text- specifically text features, like titles, graphs, tables, bold words, subheadings, and more!

There's a back story to this one- that goes all the way to my third-grade classroom a few years ago! So, let's get started!

Blog post about informational text features and how to use them with reading selections and task cards! Check the post for more!
1

Heart Pounding, Hold Your Breath Books are the Best!

Heart-pounding, hold your breath, afraid to turn the page...those are the best books. I still remember reading The Pilot's Wife years ago and staying up all night to see what was going to happen next. I felt like that with some of this month's books, too. Especially, the one by Jodi Picoult.


Throughout the post, for your convenience, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon compensates me if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!
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Can You Find Your Way Out of a Maze?

Time for STEM in First Grade! I will be honest and say that tackling STEM with the smallest of kids was intimidating way back in August. 

I really had no resources for that age group and eventually turned to some fabulous friends that sell STEM products at Teachers Pay Teachers. I have already shared some of those and will share more right here on this blog soon!

To start the year off I thought it was important to keep it simple and really focus on team building and working together. So, we started with Mazes! This would be a perfect place for you to try STEM with your smallest students right now!
STEM Challenge! Simple mazes in first grade! Easy materials with fabulous learning! Check this blog post for more!
Throughout the post, for your convenience, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon compensates me if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!

We have tried many versions of mazes with the big kids, but this was my first adventure with six-year-olds. I decided to try basic and easy materials that I pulled right out of my cabinets. 
Colored tiles and pom-poms!

Background

Before we got started building we tried some mazes projected on the white board and, of course, they thought those were great fun! Then we talked about the pathways specifically. I knew from my big kids that this would be a tricky part. The littles lined up those colored tiles and made many variations of paths- wide, and narrow, and super gigantic.
STEM Challenge: How do you make paths for a maze! Fabulous first grade STEM Check this blog post!

How do you make a pathway?

STEM Challenge: How do you make paths for a maze! Fabulous first grade STEM Check this blog post!
In fact, it was the super gigantic path that made us stop and talk about what a path really is. Take a look at the top photo above. The path was going great and then just dead ended so if you are trying to solve this one, it is impossible.

The second big mistake we made is also in the above photo. There were kids that thought they could stand the colored tiles on their sides to make the maze walls. Well, you can do that, but it's time-consuming and if you bump the table (which is exactly what first graders do every 13 seconds) then they all fall.

Learning to work together...

STEM Challenge: Build a maze with easy materials and easy prep. Just for first grade! Check this blog post!
How precious are those photos with all those little hands working together?

When it's all built, it's time to try it!

STEM Challenge: Can you get the pom-pom to travel through the maze? Check this blog post for more about these first grade STEM mazes!
We started off with this challenge using straws to blow those pom-poms through the maze. That lasted about 6 minutes. Do you know what happens when kids sit around with straws in their mouths for a little while?
Spit happens. That's enough details for you....
So, then we switched to just pushing the pom-pom with our fingers and that worked fine. It was a great challenge and just really easy.

All you need:
tables or the floor
some pom-poms or cotton balls
and plenty of colored tiles.

A bucket of tiles is a life saver with first graders! We use them for STEM all the time!
Fabulous first grade STEM!
STEM in first grade! Fabulous mazes with easy materials and easy prep! Check this blog post for more!



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