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Christmas STEM Wish List Ideas

I am trying to be better prepared this holiday season because traveling between two schools my friends stinks...bad! I set out my supplies, teach a half a day, pack up and drive to my next school over 20 minutes away...to unload, and teach in the afternoon, packing it all back up and starting all over at the other school the next day. I do that two times a week. When it was just one school I could set out everything and it just stayed there ready for kids and lessons. Now, I share a room with another teacher and dragging everything with me is so not fun!

So, as I plan, I started to think about all my teacher friends out there that struggle with just one science or STEM lesson per week. They worry about finding supplies...worry about fitting in an activity that is meaningful. We worry that school isn't quite as fun as it use to be at times...

I compiled a list of packs that I am using this December to not only make our time together a bit more memorable and fun, but I just love when I can tie in what I am teaching in Science to a STEM activity.

Here is a list of activities that I am using this month to bring a little holiday fun into my Science and STEM classroom as well as my after school classes that you can put on your wish list!

Wish List Item #1: STEM Christmas Stations

*Packaging Presents
*Gumdrop Chimney
*Treat Table For Santa
*Mystery Bag Toy Making

These stations I use with my kindergarten and second graders. When we learn about solids in second grade, I love adding the mystery bag toy making activity where everyone makes a gift for someone and we do a secret snowman exchange! My kinders love gumdrop chimneys!

Wish List Idea #2: STEM Elf Adventures

*How to Catch an Elf...Elf trap
*Elf Adventures 

I love this activity and I will be doing this with my after school classes, but I have done this activity with 2nd through 5th graders for many years. I love seeing their elf traps!

Wish List Idea #3: STEM Christmas Tree Challenge

*Christmas Tree competition
*Building a Christmas tree
*creating a Christmas ornament

This pack I use after I teach about conifer and deciduous trees to make some fun connections with holiday trees! The kids love building the trees and making an ornament to hang on their tree at home. It's a great way to make something for families!

Wish List Idea #4: STEM Candy Cane Challenge

*a "tacky" red and white chained garland
* candy cane sleighs
* a device that picks up candy canes!

I love this pack for my after school classes because I can then send a fun candy cane treat home with them! I can't always do that when working with over 60 students or more per grade level. We use the garland on our tree in our hallway and the sleighs are taken home as an ornament or present!

*14 cards that students measure along with an answer key and record sheets
*12 slides that review metric units such as mass, volume, and length, record sheet and answer key
as well as STEM volume activity

Every year, I have to work with a grade level on their SLO, this year again I am helping our third graders with their measurement chapters in their math book. I tie in STEM along with measurement, but it isn't always easy to do. Around the holidays, I have a bit more flexibility to be able to tie in a different theme. My students all love the digital activity and when their done with the cards and digital activity they can focus on the STEM connector! 

Wish List #6: Holiday Block Building

*16 cards for building with blocks
*3 STEM connections
*1 writing connection

This pack is used with my kindergarten and first grade students the last week right before break. We learn about shapes and seasons and even tie in some special traditions that our friends might participate in!

Want to find all of these wish list ideas and more? Head over to my TPT store right this way... and watch for more ideas in my next few posts that will show you how to set these Christmas ideas up and what they look like in action! Happy December!

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Scarecrows and The Science of Living and Non-Living Things

The book the Littlest Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown, is a great way to add Science into your day! How? You might ask? Well, by teaching what living vs. non-living is. At first, kindergarten and first grade students aren't always able to comprehend what is living or non-living, but don't worry, I have you covered.  Find a free resource page that can help you give them the information they need to ask the right questions.

Book Connection: The Littlest Scarecrow Boy

STEM Connection: making scarecrows and corn or crows...something living and non-living

We use toilet paper rolls, straws, popsicle sticks, paper, glue, and tape. We used blocks, but they wanted to take them home so I kept it simple.

Science Connection: Living vs. Non-living

We focus on asking the questions to figure it all out...
1. Does it need food, water, and shelter?
2. Can it move by itself?
3. Does it grow and change?
4. Does it need air?
5. Does it reproduce? Create a new one?

When we ask these questions we are able to figure out if it is living or not. We then make generalizations about plants and animals...they are all living at one time. We use cards I made with pictures of living and non-living things. I throw some harder pictures in there such as a balloon because it needs air, and it grows and changes...

Find a copy of the book here...this is an affiliated link. 

This activity is part of a bigger Thanksgiving Science and STEM pack, if your interested in adding even more Science and STEM check it out here!

Want to try this activity? Here is a free resource to get you started! Grab your lesson plan and Living vs. Non-living poster HERE.

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Cranberry Ideas For Science and STEM Fall Lessons

It's fall and cranberries are being harvested here in Wisconsin! November brings to the stores those amazing tart berries which are perfect for connecting science and STEM. Here are some great connections for you and your students!

STEM Activity #1: Cranberry Towers

Cranberry towers are perfect for reviewing measurement as they try to build the tallest towers. All you need are fresh cranberries and toothpicks. I also use cranberries and toothpicks with kindergartners to review shapes.

STEM Activity #2: Cranberry Bog Boats

One of the NGSS focuses is to make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and into a new object. This is a perfect opportunity to use the cranberries and the toothpicks again. We design and build bog boats...yes bog because that is where the berries grow and are harvested. This is perfect for connecting a bit of cranberry information.

We use the following video to connect our boats and find that not all boats will float. We then make observations and gather evidence as to what floats best. (it also gives some really great information about the plant and we tie it into native american lessons along with pemmican which was eaten by Wisconsin First Nations)

Science Idea #1: Sink or Float for Littles and Bigs

First off, our students eat craisins at breakfast fairly often, so I figured when I showed them a cranberry they might know immediately what I was holding...was I wrong. Here, we live in a state that produces more cranberries than everyone and our students don't know what this native fruit is. I heard grapes and raspberries, but not one said cranberry. We predicted what would happen if we put them in water, then I demonstrated. We then opened them up to see why they floated. They have air pockets! We then tried a variety of different fruits and vegetables to test their buoyancy .  This concept is great for any age! Cranberries can be a perfect fall springboard!

Science Idea #2: Cranberry Juice and Chemical Reactions 

I found this video a few years back and I have been using it every year during our FOSS Mixtures and Solutions Unit every year since. Using Cranberry juice as well as vinegar and lemon juice can create a perfect activity to talk about acids and bases. 

Want to find all of these activities along with sheets, links, record sheets, lesson plans and more engaging cranberry Science and STEM ideas? Find everything you need HERE!
Just in time for that Thanksgiving week lessons...both fun, engaging, and educational!

Those of you with free educator EPIC book subscriptions, the book Cranberry (Watch It Grow) is perfect for your lesson as well! Happy Thanksgiving!
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Day of the Dead Traditions and STEAM Connections

This year, our school is focused on finding ways to celebrate our diverse cultures at my city school. Out of our 300+ students we have a large Hmong and Hispanic population, as well as African American and Native American students as well! I love the rich diversity that our school represents in our district, which mind you is the absolute opposite at my country school. This is what makes our district so unique. This is what makes my job so unique!

In my after school STEM club, it allows me to find creative ways to celebrate the variety of traditions that our students celebrate! Each week, I have focused on a new tradition that came from our survey that we asked students and families at the beginning of the year. From pumpkin patches and corn mazes which traditionally are visited in our town, to finishing up with the Hmong New Year in November we are finding ways to bring in ways to show how we are all the same...yet we are all different.

This week, we are celebrating Dia De Los Muertos in STEM club! We created tables and marigolds.
The tables were made simply from blocks, Jenga, 10's sticks, and tongue depressors. We created tissue paper marigolds and learned through a great video that that reminded us of the movie Coco! This is a great springboard to share this tradition with your students.
Grab the Day of the Dead STEAM Pack to add a little tradition and cultural diversity to your school day!

This week...$2.00 for four STEAM Stations! Find the Day of the Dead STEAM pack here!
Enjoy your October traditions!
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Pumpkin Time STEM Quick Pick

This week, my kindergartners are learning about pumpkins. A quick and easy STEM activity is just what my little pumpkins need to learn how to be creative! You can either grab a book such as the Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin which I love... or even the 5 Little Pumpkins that have a springboard that you could use to have them build a wall, gate, or step that the pumpkin can sit on!

I love to use the little pumpkins we grow in our school garden, but any little pumpkin can do! Here are the other materials that you can use...

Materials:  tongue depressors, cubes,  ten number blocks, blocks, and book such as the Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin

I use a tray to place all of the different choices on and then I set out the blocks at their table tops.

 Quick Pick Ideas: A quick pick for me is an activity that can take less than 30 minutes including a book a STEM challenge. We were able to learn the life cycle of a pumpkin, as well as read a story then pose the challenge. I then have the trays set out at the tables for the students to go to when I am done with the book and science lesson. I also set out one little pumpkin per table for them to test their designs with. We learn about modifications real fast when a pumpkin doesn't balance.

Links You Might Like:
Fall STEM Ideas
Fall Flip Book
Pumpkin Themed Activities
Digital Pumpkin Activities with STEM and Math Connections

Time to make Science Child's Play with this quick pick! Your little pumpkins will love it! This is an easy activity to "patch" together as well.

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!
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Dave's Down to Earth Rock Display: STEM Springboard Book

I think it is often difficult to add STEM activities to a rock unit, but sometimes a random idea can create a great activity! Every year I read the book, Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop(it is a perfect book for a rock unit because it really covers some great rock concepts), but this year I started to find myself needing to find some new challenges to add to what I have to already teach in FOSS Earth Materials for my third graders.

I came up with a way for all of the random rocks that get brought to me from my students because they get so excited about showing me a rock they find! Why not use the book and Dave's various displays to display our own rock collection! Here is what you can do to rock your geology unit, too!

STEM Springboard book: Dave's Down To Earth Rock Shop written by Stewart J. Murphy is one of those perfect books for this kit or any rock unit. It allows for students to review properties of a rock and  the rock cycle as well . The book does a great job also using a ton of great geography vocabulary as well as it covers Moh's Hardness Scale which we do in class. Click here or on the book to find your own copy!
Dave's Down-to-Earth Rock Shop (MathStart 3)
STEM Activity: The beginning of the book shows a child's collection from pennants to marbles. He displays them in a variety of ways. Dave also displays his rocks to show them off. We used a collection of rocks that students brought in as well as some of my favorites. I asked them what we could do to show off our rocks just like the book. We decided upon a display.

Constraints and Criteria:  I set the constraints and criteria. It must be at least three inches off the surface, allow two or more rocks to be on display, and be made out of at least three supplies provided. I will say not all of our engineers followed the design criteria and in their record sheet it is a great place to be able to reflect.

Materials: egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, cardboard, cups, paper plates, paper and masking tape

What is so wonderful, it is an opportunity to have students bring in rocks they collect or find. It lets them learn how to describe the properties of their rocks and to be proud of their findings. It connects them to science and geology! When they got to display their rocks they got even more excited to let others see their findings!

I thought it would really "rock" if I gave you the sheet that I use with my students! Click on the link for my free Science School Yard Rock Resource!
                                                   Free STEM Springboard Book Activity

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!
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Quick Air Science Ideas Based on NGSS

Air is all around us. Air moves things, Air interacts with other objects, and Air is an invisible gas that takes up space. Here are a few quick air activities that you can add to your science lessons based on the following K-2nd grade NGSS concepts...

Starting Point: 
Learning about air is the foundation for teaching structure and properties of matter as you learn that air is a gas and takes up space. I teach these mini lessons to my second graders to teach them to plan and conduct investigations to describe how different kinds of materials and objects have observable properties.

The Plan:
I first show them a clear plastic baggie filled with air. I let them know we are going to learn about something very special that can change weather and be very dangerous at times. I have it in the bag. What is in the bag can also move other things and interact with objects. I then show them the bag. Most believe nothing is in the bag, however there is always one that guesses air.

Giving them a plastic bag of their own filled with objects that are light and heavy, flat and 3-D is a great way to then teach properties and what makes them a solid or a gas. (I don't give them liquids at this point) I let them blow with a straw or with their own breath and see how air moves things. I love reading the story The Wind Blew. Perfect for adding in what is a prediction!

Book Connection: The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins

STEM Connections: I love having the students make a maze to blow a cotton ball through. We also read The Three Pigs and build houses made of blocks to blow down.

Book Connections: The Three Pigs by James Marshall

Air Concept #2:
The framework core ideas that NGSS covers as you teach about air are: ESS2 D Weather and Climate, this is where we build up what is air and how and why can it be part of regulating weather and climate?

The concept air moves things can now be expanded to air interacts with other objects. Tie in weather reports, predicting the weather, and how moving air affects the weather. Observe clouds...create wind socks or pinwheels to observe wind movement.

STEM Connections: blow bubbles to watch the direction the wind is blowing...make your own bubble wand to test it out!

Book Connection: I like to use Feel The Wind by Arthur Dorros

Air Concept #3:
We also tie in a Kindergarten NGSS performance expectation: using and observing weather conditions can help us describe patterns over time. Keeping track of the weather as well as predicting the forecast is a great way to teach that predictions are only a guess. You can also tie in patterns and seasonal changes.

Book Connections: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

STEM Connections: This all can tie into ESS3 where students learn about how Earth's surface processes and human activities affect each other. This can work with teaching natural resources such as how we use air as power. Creating wind turbines or boats powered by the wind is a perfect STEM connection!
                                      Wind Science and STEM Pack
Looking for a kindergarten through second grade pack that has everything you need? HERE is a great Wind Science and STEM Pack for you!

Looking for something for your older kiddos? Check out this STEM Quick Pick Energy Pack! 
                                      Energy STEM/NGSS Science Quick Pick

Time to air on the side of fun and engaging Science and STEM lessons that tie into NGSS! Whether you use FOSS Air and Weather lessons, NGSS, or TIEKS or anything in between it is always great to find new ideas to add to what you are already doing!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!
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