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Showing posts with label after school classes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label after school classes. Show all posts

October STEM Stations

I see October right around that corner and you know what that means? Halloween, Candy, and Bat Stations! I am so fortunate to be able to teach science, but you know how I love to add STEM to my lessons! This year, I am hosting an after school STEM class and each week leading up to Halloween I am going to be working on a different activity that centers around a fun and timely October theme! Most importantly, I want my learners to understand the science (and math)  behind the activity or idea...from echolocation to push and pull...there is science to add to every great engineering project!

Week 1: 
Bats! Starting this week...I will not only teach the science behind echolocation, we also tie in different types of bats and their characteristics. I will have my kiddos working on building a bat and a bat habitat...from cave to tree as the STEM connection!

Week 2: 
Weaving Webs! We will learn about spiders and the science behind not only how they make their webs, but how spiders catch and eat insects! Once they are done, they will create their own web along with a way to make their web a game.

Week 3:
Getting ready for trick-or-treating with candy carriers! We will focus on capacity...volume...perimeter and area to add some math into our STEM stations! Once they are done, we will measure to see how many pieces of candy we can fit into their candy carrier! I love how they have to figure out a way to create a carrier out of ONE piece of paper!

Week 4: 
Building Frankenstein...perfect to share what they will wear! We will focus on movement of an object along with push and pull! I love putting movement to our Frankenstein designs. These two examples show how their models can slide as well as swing.

Week 5: 
Too much candy? Now, let's build with it! I will host three stations for them to try to wrap up our first session of STEM after school fun! Candy cars...candy playground...and candy corn catapults! We will discuss motion with all three!

It isn't always easy finding ways to find time for science, but if you are adding STEM activities why not find a science and math connection! It is a perfect way to put it all together!

Looking to find ways to tie Science and engineering together? Here are the packs that I am using for my after school STEM classes... from CANDY STEM...  to STEM HALLOWEEN FUN... or even BAT SCIENCE AND STEM... your kids will love a chance to build and connect this October!

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter for exclusive freebies and access to my free resource library! Check out the free STEM bat pack exclusive in my resource library along with other goodies sent right to your inbox!

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School Gardens In The Summer: Tips For Maintaining

Our school has had a school garden for fives years! I am the lovely facilitator of that garden...I say that because it is not MY garden...it is the children's' garden! I often get asked how we can maintain a garden and second how it can last that long. Often times, schools want to get on the school garden bandwagon and then after a year find out that it is hard to maintain. If you are remotely interested in starting a garden at your school then here are some quick tips to get you "growing"...

Tip 1:
You NEED to have one person (or more if you are lucky!) that is truly dedicated to maintaining and advocating for your garden. That is me at our school. You then need your administration and your maintenance crew on board as well. Our garden has changed from its original state due to the garden beds being too hard to mow around...the herbs were placed in metal cans which can be unsafe (but we wanted to contain them so that they didn't get out of control...they can do that you know) We as a team, find ways to make sure that our district policies are being followed and yet still hold true to what our vision is.

You need your administration to be on board and part of your team. Whether that is support of your plan, seeing academic benefits, or getting down and dirty along with the kids as they learn how to garden, you truly cannot do it without them on your team!

And let's just say when your administration sees it as a benefit they can find ways to fund the project and sustain it for years to come. (I will get to that next)

Tip 2:
You will need to find funding, grants, and donations. Each year, I have been able to find "free" money that helps support our school garden. Whether it be the Anthem Watch Us Sprout Grant which provided us this year with soil, books, hundreds of free seeds to distribute to our families and students, as well as amazing banners that we display in our lunchroom that supports healthy eating habits!

Find a local greenhouse that might be willing to donate. If you have a composting business close by, call them to see if they can give a deal to a local school garden. People LOVE the idea of kids growing and may be excited enough to donate or give a product at a reduced price!

Tip 3:
Find ways to integrate the garden into the curriculum. We have a unique situation at our school...I teach each and every student. That means over 400 students come to me for Science, STEM, Gardening. You name it...I teach it! The beauty of this model is that I then can work with each grade level to take part in gardening. (Watch for this week's series for ideas on how to grow plants with kids!)

Kindergartners plant a kinder"garden" which is pumpkins, zucchini, and gourds.
First Graders plant flowers to learn about insect pollination. Sunflowers are great to grow as well as daffodils.
Second Graders plant potatoes and then gold mine for them in fall to tie in Social Studies and the Westward Movement as well as lettuce, spinach, kale, and peas. We use the FOSS Plant unit to start us off, but then I deviate.
Third Graders plant an egg roll and coleslaw garden. We plant cabbage which is sponsored by Bonnie Plants (free cabbage plants for the annual cabbage contest. Find the Link here: http://bonniecabbageprogram.com/ ) We also plant carrots for our coleslaw and egg rolls!
Fourth Graders plant the Three Sisters Garden which ties in native american history. That includes Beans, squash, and corn.
Fifth Graders plant a victory garden as they learn about WWII. They plant kohlrabi, tomatoes, peppers, and anything else we want to stick in the ground.

I know that this may not be how your school teaches science so here are some ideas....
-each grade level can be assigned special vegetables and an area to plant them in
-someone that is interested can have a container garden that they watch and learn from
-facilitators can teach lessons, plant seeds, start them at school and send them home
-interested teachers can work together to grow a school garden, it can be part of an after school program, or even a summer school class.

Tip 4:
Just do it. I cannot tell you how many people I talk to that want to start a school garden and then just sit and wait for everything to fall in place just perfectly....nothing is ever perfect. We learned from our mistakes, changed them as we went, and continue to learn as we go!

 Your team, whoever it is that is part of your plan, can find an area for your garden, create a design, decide what to plant, figure out who waters, weeds, picks, and shares the harvest.  (In this week's series, I will share with you different ways to use your bounty!)

Tip 5:

How do you keep it growing? Summer weeding, watering, and picking and then what do you do with it? All things to think about. In the past I have tried a lot of different methods. Here are a few ideas for you...
-Americorp volunteers. They always need hours.
-United Way. If they weed and pick ...they can keep some of the harvest.
-Parent and Family volunteers. I used Remind 101 after a digital sign up link went into our school newsletter. It is sometimes hard for them to remember to I send a reminder with this app.
-I use my summer school program to tie gardening into the STEM based curriculum that I developed. We use STEM Little Red Hen to teach teamwork and hard work come first before the reward. We then weed and then eat!
-I have an underground irrigation system that I wrote a grant for...so watering is not an issue for me, however utilize your helpers, custodians, school programs that can help with this chore.

This week, I will be sharing more tips, epic fails you can learn from, as well as celebrations! I will always say...a seed is magic. You just have to get "growing" to find that out!

This pack has been worked on for over three years. I now use this pack for my kindergarten though third graders.

Here is a link to a free portion of this pack...Let's just call it a "FREEBEE"! FREE-BEE For You Found HERE!

Free"bee" Bee Activities and Science Connections
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Turkey Time STEM

This next week, we have two days before we see a little break for Thanksgiving.The teachers are in their classrooms  writing about what they are thankful for and getting in their last minute tests so that the students don't lose the information while they are on a bit of a holiday.

What a perfect time for STEM! STEM is science, technology, engineering, and math. What is so great about STEM activities is that you can tie in a great picture book along with a hands on problem solving situation. These activities don't have to be complicated, time consuming, or expensive.

Image result for run turkey runTake for example the book, Run Turkey, Run. Have the students use bo ops and Jenga, with a little art to make the scenery or setting of the story and you have a great hands-on way to teach a reading strategy. I use Jenga blocks and gift boxes along with a bit of tape and you are set to go!

Time for CranberriesImage result for a turkey for thanksgivingWith my littles, all they need is a book like A Turkey For Thanksgiving and some math manipulative that you already have in your classroom such as 10's and 100 blocks, Unifix cubes, Legos, or even Jenga blocks again and you have a simple STEM idea in the works by having them make a hideout for the Turkey so he isn't eaten on Thanksgiving.

1. Pick a fun Turkey Trouble story where poor turkey might be dinner...
2. Set out materials for them to get or have them ready at the tables...
3. Let them build their own little turkey hide out to help the turkey not be dinner!
4. Place the paper turkey inside the hideout and then...
5. Let the kids share their ideas and reflect with their sheets.

A little writing...a little reading...a little science and engineering! If you like this freebie...take a look at my STEM stations on TPT.

Download your freebie station HERE.

If it's turkeys that you have had enough of, here in Wisconsin we are never short of some fresh cranberries! This fun new book shares with students how cranberries are harvested from bog to berries on your table.

Grab a bag of fresh berries and boxes of toothpicks at the dollar store and you have an interactive way to tie in math structures and shapes. You could also taste test different cranberry products and vote on your favorites. You can also show your students why cranberries float...they have pockets of hollow space just like pumpkins! From craisins to cranberry juice this graphing activity can help you find ways to make learning right before a break fun for everyone! Follow the link for some  Here is the Teacher Pay Teacher link: Cranberry Fun!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. May you all find something to be thankful for! I am thankful for all of you!

Back To School Maker Space

Going back to school is an exciting time for teachers and students. During the summer, teachers like myself, often take classes or research new ideas. At the end of the year, last year, our Library and Media Specialist and I started diving into the idea of having a Maker Space in the library or in my new science room (I have been in the teacher's lounge for three years).

So...this summer...I have had time to develop a Maker Space Area (it is in the making...our school is getting added on to and getting into our building is a bit hard...) I did not do this alone however...Brooke Brown from Out of the Box and Wendy and Cheryl at Get Caught Engineering have been so helpful! I am also so excited that I met a wonderful Father/Daughter duo from Brain Brigade! They have wonderful resources and ideas for what a Maker Space to them was all about! Here is what I learned and developed for my upcoming Maker Space Area in my Science Classroom...

What is a Maker Space?
A maker space is a common area within a classroom or media space where children are able to engineer, explore, tinker, and discover through creative building opportunities.
It is a DIY space where children can gather to create… learn…explore…and invent!  This space may include apps, software, tools and craft supplies found in your art cabinet, recycle bin, or by donations. Maker spaces can include 3-D Printers, Lego sets, K’nex, blocks…however a maker space does not need expensive items to be a place to create.

 Where Do I Put a Maker Space?
Your maker space can be on a book shelf loaded with craft and art supplies, on an open shelf with labeled bins, or a dedicated open area in your classroom. Whether you let students create in a whole group method, task card or station method, or when students have extra time and want to explore…a maker space will allow students to thrive as they find their inner engineer, designer, artist…the sky is the limit!

Suggested Materials: (free, cheap, and expensive)

Paper, foil, egg cartons, dowels, pompoms, legos, Keva blocks,  Jenga blocks, tools, glue, cotton balls, cardboard pieces, cups, yarn, tape, scissors, pipe cleaners, toilet paper rolls, ipads, plastic utensils, paper/styrofoam plates, straws, popsicle sticks, index cards, k’nex, assorted blocks, baggies, empty plastic containers, paper clips, binder clips, empty milk containers, empty water bottles, wheels, fabric and ribbons, card stock, rulers, plastic wrap, bubble wrap, Snap Circuits, magnets, Makey Makey, LED lights, batteries, Goldiblocks sets,  Scratch, Qubits, Dot and Dash, Playdough and Squishy Circuits…Just to name a few.  Use what you can get and what is affordable to you.

Here is what I made to help my after school Maker Space Classes that will start up in late September. I will be co-teaching this with my wonderful media specialist!

STEM/Maker Space Task Cards:
There are a lot of very effective and engaging ways to use these task cards.
You can use these cards for whole group as an introduction to your new unit or at the end for an exit ticket. You can use them in a center as students finish their work or even in small differentiated groups as you work with them or they can work with them independently.

Task Card Differentiation Approach:
Students that need help can work with you in a small group with the record sheet so that they get your guidance or prompting. If this group needs help you are there to guide them.
Another group can be given the exact supplies that you would like them to use so that they are guided by you just a little bit. The students in this group will be completing their sheet as a group or independently. If they have questions the group members can problem solve together.
Your independent group will not only work in a small group, they will use the materials in your STEM Store or Maker Space to develop their own plan to create the end product. They can use the record sheet or by using the scientific process they can also create their own record sheet.
In any case, all students will share out at the end of the time. Discussing modifications, how it works, and giving compliments, and suggestions.

Done Early Station/Center Approach:
Sometimes my students are done early. We have all been there. What a great way to help students use inquiry based science strategies and their creativity to use their time wisely.   It keeps them engaged instead of wasting valuable
learning time.
To use this as a center/station, students can come to a designated spot in the
classroom where the task cards are located. The supplies needed can be
laid out or placed in labeled buckets and the students can choose what materials they would like to use. I often set aside numbered boxes for the supplies they start to use and if they don’t finish in the given time, they can always come back to it. In this way, what they are working on is valued.
I also place a generic record sheet for them to use. (included in this pack.)
Task Card Set Up: 
I cut down the middle and hole punch the corner, connecting them with a

ring. You can also put them separately in a bucket or hung up on a board.

If you are interested in starting your own Maker Space in your classroom...keep following along as I continue to create my Maker Space. Until then...here are the bulletin board letters and labels for you to have! Maker Space Freebie!

And don't forget the Teacher Pay Teacher Sale on Monday and Tuesday where everything in my store will be 28% off including the Maker Space Task Cards! Stop by my store to start your Wish List!

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