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Valentine STEM and Organization Made Easy

Remember when you might have been able to have a Valentine's Day Party...along with treats...time to make boxes to house all of the Valentine cards in them...organize snacks and treats...well now those days are over for many schools...including mine. I do not LOVE wasting valuable instructional time so in order to find some time for fun I LOVE to add STEM to my Valentine's Day!

The best thing that I could have figured out as I teach all of our Kindergarten through Fifth Graders is that at times if I differentiate my big STEM Engineering Ideas I can set up one bucket, create different sheets that work for different grade levels, and when a holiday like Valentine's Day comes around I can be set to go hour after hour...all I have to do is replenish the materials used...and here's a BIG one...have each group that finishes with the bucket to leave it as close to the way they found it as possible! (I find that before we share out...they need to clean up because the group that cleans up first gets to present first.

Here are some great ideas that can really be differentiated for multiple grade levels! Today was the best when a group of fifth graders were watching the presentations I recorded of the second graders and I heard them say how those second graders sure are smart because their ideas were amazing!  The other weird thing was that our littles were able to work faster and more efficiently than our fifth graders as well!


STEM Station 1: Candy Heart Carrier
In this one has you creating a short love note using at least four candy hearts in the note. We used note cards for our notes. I love how creative the kids can get with the candy hearts. As for the carrier...give the kiddos some ideas on how to carry mail or objects and they are set to go! Give them paper, string, tape, glue...

STEM Station 2: Valentine Bouquet
This one was so cute...I had them making flowers for someone they loved. Using paper, tissue paper, straws, pipe cleaners, glue, tape...the cutest part was when we got done one of my kiddos came over and gave me their flowers! So super adorable!

STEM Station 3: Candy Heart Dispenser

So I did this one with second graders and fourth and fifth graders...the second graders were so very creative and were able to do it quicker than those older kids. Go figure! I gave them Styrofoam cups (other cups, too but they seemed to go to the Styrofoam), tongue depressors, candy hearts, tape, toilet paper tubes...I love how they could get the candy hearts to come out one at a time. This one really showed their creativity!

STEM Station 4: Love Bugs
Time for some Love Bugs! I love the heart shaped wings!
Great review of the parts of an insect. Have them include a head, thorax, and abdomen, eyes, antennas, six legs...give them egg cartons, bottle tops, construction paper, pipe cleaners, straws, google eyes...Get them making a love bug for a love bug of theirs to give it to!

STEM Station 5: Cupid's Archery Game (Extra Game We Are Playing On Valentine's Day This Year! Stay Tuned For Pictures!)

Having them create a bow using plastic spoons and knives if you tape up the sharp parts, Craft sticks, Straws, Straws, Rubber bands, Paper clips, and good ole' masking tape!

But, Let's talk organization... I love having the supplies in the bucket, but remember to have them clean up and recycle or throw away before they even put anything back in the bucket. Only reusable supplies and unused supplies get put back in exactly like they first saw it. 

I have them clean up before we share and line up. We have a quality control person (bucket brigade) that inspects the bucket and then brings in back to our central location. They are in charge of making sure the team is cleaned up! It works pretty slick!

I will be sharing more tips for easy clean up in an upcoming post!

Want it all in one place? STEM Velope Valentine Pack can be found here! I love these interactive holiday themed activities...just in time for Valentine's Day!

Don't forget to sign up for our Science School Yard Scoop~lots of great extra freebies in your inbox as well as in our free resource library!

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Are You Ready For Some Football...STEM Stations and Family Connections

Next weekend is the Super Bowl and to get ready we created some amazingly fun STEM football activities to play during our at home "Super Bowl Parties"...if they do not watch the game or have a get together...we shared that this would be a great way to get their families playing together this next week!

Sometimes I just love to find ways to get families involved. That is seriously one of our School Goals! Let's walk through what you can do to get your parents involved in your STEM products!

First...connect with parents by sending a pre-game warm up

What does that mean? Send a note home sharing with them that you will be making a fun game for the Super Bowl (or insert what ever else your theme is) and have them donate or have them share a time they had a ball with their child. Bring them into what you are doing in science (insert any other subject).

Second... pump the kids up by showing them football clips, high lights, Past Super Bowl High Lights and Book Connections

This will get them ready for understanding the game a bit. Give them some background. Another great idea is to share a picture book.

Third...Set them up for successful STEM Lessons

Set out the supplies at a table for a Supply Smorgasbord, or get supply buckets ready with everything a table needs...two easy ways to make sure that they are ready to go.

Have your sheets ready and have them go through the design process. I set the sheets out at every table, set them in a pile to have a helper count them out, or even just put them in a pile as part of the smorgasbord...and you are set to go!

Now let them go through the design process after sharing with them the constraints. Set a timer for them to get done at a given time and give them reminders along the way so that they are finished when the time is up. At times some groups may not get done, we discuss YET and share what we would do next as well as what we do have!

Here are this week's STEM Stations to get ready for the Big Super Bowl Party!

 All you need is 2 pieces of paper, 6 dixie cups, tape, and cotton balls to build it!
 For the Goal Posts you need straws, Popsicle sticks, and masking tape.

I have given options for this one, but I am using it with younger kids in 2nd and third grade so I am giving each person 6 sticks, three rubber bands, a bottle top and a pom pom!

Need it all in one place with sheets, supply lists, language arts and math here is the link for the Football STEM Activity Pack HERE!

Finally, don't forget to have them create directions for their games, give them a try in class, and then take them home for families to play! A perfect way to get them connecting!

The Packers aren't in the Super Bowl this year, so I guess I will root for good snacks and perfect party food! I myself am making Buffalo Chicken Dip and Veggie Pizza...

How do you connect with your parents? Would love to hear it in the comments below!

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Sunshine Where Have You BEAN...Adding Jack and The Bean Stalk STEM

The sun has not come out for days...it has been cold here in Wisconsin and indoor recess is killing them! (and the teachers...) Time to pull out the fairy tale STEM packs to save the day!  Here are some quick and easy ways to add fairy tale STEM to your lessons!

Get a variety of fairy tale books that cover the theme you are trying to cover. 

For example, Jack and the Beanstalk. I use Epic Books for mine. It's a free site for teachers when you sign up.

Tie it into what you are already doing.

Using Jack and the Beanstalk can be used during a sound unit if you choose to  make a harp. We make a harp/stringed instrument using cardboard and rubber bands. We cover pitch and vibrations and volume.

I also love to use Jack and the Beanstalk with my plant unit in spring. We grow beans in our school garden and add the STEM activity of how tall of a beanstalk can you build using just masking tape and green bulletin board paper. We add leaves and jack to the vine.

You can also add activities such as building a parachute to get Jack safely to the ground. We use different types of materials to test to see which one has better air resistance. We set up a bull's eye for the parachutes to land on to see if Jack gets safely down.

Add a twist...discuss how Jack did not do the right thing by taking something that didn't belong to him.  Have them build a safe way for the giant to get down to get his harp and goose back. You can have them create the biggest giant out of a certain amount of paper and measure each of the giants and compare. This adds a little math to the equation.

If you want to save yourself time...get these activities all in one place. Find the whole pack HERE.

Bean there....done that and the kids loved it! Add a great version of Jack and the Beanstalk...a fractured fairy tale...a fun comparison and contrasting connection along with measuring how high each beanstalk is and you are set to go!

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Groundhog Day Ideas For Your Classroom

Just a few more days until February 2nd (Ground Hog's Day) and I see many of my friends out there that have had snow days...summer break just ended for our friends in other countries... and some really wild weather is hitting us...  I would love a day to hibernate...or two or three! It is a perfect time however, to talk about and teach the weather in your classrooms! Time to talk Ground Hog's Day and finding some great ways to add science to your school day! Whether you add a fun language arts lesson along with shadows, or find a fun hibernation and migration lesson to share with your students...Ground Hog's Day is  a perfect fit to add some science and STEM!

As you add ways to find time for science make the most of a fun day such as Ground Hogs day to do that! Here are some ideas to help...

Grab Some FUN and Perfect Theme Based Books and Videos
Don't have a copy? Use Youtube! I always like to see my options for books on Youtube!
Another way to use You Tube is to find a great science video connection to share with your students solid facts. Always watch your video first to make sure it will work for your kiddos!

Use NGSS or Standards to Guide You!

The Next Generation Science Standards for Kindergarten have a specific standard for Weather and Climate.

Here are the guidelines:
1. Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth's surface

2.  Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.

3. Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.

4. Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to severe weather. 

What can you do now to utilize standards that are out there? 

1. Learn about animals that hibernate such as groundhogs. When the sunlight doesn't hit the surface of the Earth in winter like it does in summer in some habitats then animals must hibernate, migrate, or adapt.  As early as kindergarten, they can learn about the tilt of the Earth.

2. Use tools to design a burrow, cave, den...for an animal that hibernates. Instead of just thinking about the warming effects, which is a great tie in to the standard, how do all animals adapt to heat or cold...a change in temperature?  This is also a great time to talk to students about how they adapt to the cold or heat.

Make visors to shield eyes from the sun and make mitten patterns to show what we might need in the cold. Connect how animals do the same by adding blubber or fat...or shedding their coat.

3. Use the local weather map to track the temperature and weather patterns in your town. Make and use a simple calendar pattern to show patterns over time or a change in weather. Discuss what animals might be doing or what they should wear.

4. Discuss natural hazards in your area that can occur and what might occur in other parts of the country or world. Why is it important to look at the forecast. Use your calendar to add what might be in the forecast and what would they do it that were to happen. (Snow days due to blizzards, tornadoes that can come during certain times of the year, hurricanes and how we prepare...)

5. Teaching the concept of living and non-living can fit in this time of year as well. Finding ways to add science concepts can be as easy as showing them pictures from a book, magazine, or with objects found around your home or classroom.

Utilize Science Lessons That Are Simple With Few Supplies and High Impact

Shadows and shadow puppets require very little to teach about the groundhog and a science concept. Grab a flashlight, some popsicle sticks (or rulers if you want to reuse or don't have the funds/supplies), and some paper. 

Learn about how shadows are made by teaching the concepts of transparent, translucent, and opaque. Then figure out what type of materials: plastic baggies, wax paper, aluminum foil, black and white paper, lamination film, plastic glasses in all different shades from clear, to cloudy, to colored...all will work. Have them use flashlights or mini lights in the room to test out the different materials. 

Use your smartboard for them to create shadow puppets (my students do this all the time stand up or put their hand up to see their image...go with it and teach a science concept)

Make sun dials. I went to our lunchroom and got some cans that were going to be recycled. I filled them with some sand and put a dowel in the center. Presto...a sundial!

Find Resources To Help You

Don't have time to look around for some lessons on ground hogs or even a quick activity to add...don't worry you can grab my resource! It is filled with STEM, science, language arts, and math activities for your primary students!

Teaching science concepts can be easy with a little help from the Science School Yard!

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6 Skeletal System Game Ideas for Studying Bones!

I have been trying hard to NOT get frustrated with my students' lack of effort in studying for my science concepts that I am trying to teach! I pride myself at my entertaining nature...I have become quite an actress up front of the room getting them excited about what I am teaching. I see them look at me and I think they are really getting it...and then we take a test and whaawhaa...not good results.

For the last two weeks, my fourth graders have been learning about the skeletal system and let's just say it is never easy to help them memorize and remember the major bones of the human body. I came up with a theme this year...Game of Bones where each event that we do will lead up to us building a Mr. Bones puzzle found in our FOSS Human Body Kit. I also found several patterns on line that would work, too! Here are some game ideas that I use to help my students retain information better!

Game Idea #1:

I first give them tricks for remembering the bones of the body. For example, we wiggle our pelvis like Elvis. We drive a car with our "car"pels. We make a U with our ulna...hitting it below the elbow and saying ulna. We make a hut, hut sound and crouch down like a football player and say "football femur". We make a V by our clavicle with our hands...we pat...our patella...I have a trick for them all!

Once I explain all of the different moves, we play a little Simon Says. This always gets them actively engaged and moving!

Game Idea #2:

Another game we play is Bones...Get To The Point. I give them the picture of the skeletal system or they use Mr. Bones that we constructed. I then say a bone out loud randomly and with a partner they try to point to the correct bone first. I also give them a sheet that has all of the names of the bones listed that is included in our FOSS kit. They tally which person was able to get it right. A little Game of Bones to add to the overall fun we can have learning about the skeletal system.

Game Idea #3:

Now it is time for us to play Name That Bone. I hang up posters of the skeletal system and have an arrow pointing to a bone. They try to figure out what bone it is and then they check the correct answer with the qr code reader. We have a record sheet to write down our guess before we check to assure they aren't just scanning and then moving on without truly studying...not that they would do that...right?

Our final Game of Bones activity allows us to look at not just the bones, but to learn how the skeletal system helps protect, help with movement, and give structure. I give them the question sheet, give them the question cards and we once again test what we know.

Game Idea #4:

I am adding a bonus game we used to figure out protection, movement, and structure. I give them a code on the board for them to solve within a period of time... they fill in the bones with the correct answers which they can use as a study guide!

Want to save time if you are teaching this? I have all of these games ready for you in a pack! The Skeletal System Review Game Pack! Found HERE!

Game Idea #5

I thought it might be fun to include a fun freebie for game idea 5!

I use a decoder for another game! Want your students to remember facts, but having to take notes isn't very engaging...make it more fun by having them have to find the answers in a given time...if they do it they get to build a skeleton for example during a skeletal system unit...each activity that they are doing can add more bones to the skeleton! The Game of Bones my friends!  So for this one...if they solve the three hidden words that show the functions of the skeletal system. I give them six minutes. If they can't do it in time, they can always take a chance and spin the wheel! Try the link for a wheel decide yes or no! Not so defeating if they can't get it, and a 50/50 chance is better than nothing!  Yes or No Wheel of Chance

Game Idea #6

We then create a scavenger on the internet for a part of a lapbook they can build. Inside the picture of the skeleton with arrows pointing to bones. They can hunt for these on a site such as Anatomy Arcade. This is a great way for them to review using the internet. They can label their diagram in their mini- lapbook included in today's freebie! Sign up today for your free pack or check your inbox if you are already part of my newsletter subscribers the email was sent today! I will also put it in our Free Resources Secret Page. Get the secret code when you sign up! Lots of great resources being added!

No Bones about it...making a science lesson more engaging can really help students retain information!

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Science and STEM Connections and a FREEBIE

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an important day to celebrate diversity and peace in your classroom. Important lessons of racial and social justice can empower teachers and students. We can explore those concepts on this special day or throughout the school year. Science is a great way to provide the concept of black and white, civil rights, and social awareness. This post can help find ways to integrate science to teach Dr. King's message.

Activities that can help students learn through science:
1. Yin and Yang Symbol Activity to show how two opposite sides, different people can work together
2. Balloon Expansion to show how black and white containers can create (positive) energy
3. Radiating Heat by testing how different colors such as white and black can radiate heat and warmth
4. Light and Color Experiment to use a quote and connect with research and writing
5. STEM connections that include building a bridge and a monument in Montgomery, Alabama to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

I love this pack because it allows me to add science and STEM lessons to reading and writing activities!


       Want 28 pages of Science, STEM, Writing, and Research for your classroom? Find It here!

One way to connect with the Science and STEM pack or during your writing time is to watch some of his famous quotes. I will be re-watching the video and stopping to read the quotes to the students. I am including the quotes here for you to use!  Find the Free Quote Sheets HERE!

Whether you read a story, show a video, connect a science or STEM activity or continue each and every day to teach tolerance, peace, and the message that someday that all of us can be "brothers and sisters" no matter the color of their skin you are helping to keep his dream alive!
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Winter STEM Is Here...Make Connections

Winter is finally officially here and now it is time for some winter science and STEM! This is a great opportunity to add Gingerbread...Penguins...Learning about Seasons and Snow (if you get that white stuff that comes from the sky like we do here in Wisconsin). It has been below zero here and indoor recess is expected all week!

We can't sit in front of a fire, curled up in a blanket...which I would love to do...we have to keep our students engaged after the holiday season! Winter can surely drag on for students and for teachers!

My favorite time of year to add STEM is in Winter! STEM activities keep learners engaged and challenged! This is one way to always bring a smile to my students' faces! Who doesn't love STEM activities. Not to mention we can sneak in a little learning of science along the way!
My littles just love using my digital activities on the Smartboard! We use it as an assessment and a way to keep them focused! This pack is on sale this week: The link is HERE!

This week, kindergartners will be working with the hot and cold theme. They are learning how to read a thermometer, as well as build shelters for animals that need to stay warm in the cold winter.

We will be learning about hibernation, migration, and adaptation. They will learn about weather after that. It is an NGSS kindergarten focus, but first when it is hot the red part of the thermometer goes up and when it is cold it goes down. The numbers show the temperature. What number is it closest to?
This winter pack is filled with digital science, math, and science lessons along with STEM stations! The link for this product can be found HERE.

Second graders are learning about solids and liquids so we will be learning about snowmen and what happens when they come inside out of the cold. I have to say that I have been using some fun sheets that I made and some that I borrowed from Bunting Books that I love...What's The Matter, Mr. Snowman.

Third graders are learning about water on a slanted surface from the FOSS kit, but let's be real here...that is NOT very exciting. How to tie to what excites kids...SNOW DAY! Here in our home town, we actually have a tubing hill that takes you and your tube up the hill. So to tie in the water down a hill lesson we tie it to a STEM tubing hill winter activity! Let's make science fun...add STEM and science in on lesson!

Winter STEM Stations are our theme for the next two weeks in STEM Club, too!

Fifth graders left for break with a solution of Borax and Hot water. They were hoping to get back to school seeing crystals form on their snowflake patterns. It worked! They are so excited to have a snowflake made of a solution! Again, using my FOSS Mixtures and Solutions kit to tie in an extension that is engaging and exciting. I find that their vocabulary really increases. I made a fun freebie sheet with directions for you and your learners!

All these activities can be found in the many packs that I have for the winter time!  Winter lessons for upper grades come from my Snow Science Activities Pack. This pack is filled with activities that help learners understand early explorers, solstice and equinox, Insta-snow activities, Borax Crystals and more!

Winter is in full swing. It is cold...we have indoor recess...the kids definitely could use some hands on science and STEM stations. Each pack is filled with so many ideas to keep them walking in a winter wonderland!  I would love to hear from you...how do you add winter lessons to your school day?
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