My Store

My Store
My Store

Free Resources

Free Resources
Free Resources
Showing posts with label holiday fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday fun. Show all posts

STEM Lessons and Family Traditions

This week I had a new student arrive in my science room. He had an amazingly unique name one representative of our Native American culture here in Wisconsin. so I asked him if he was Native American and his reply was, "No, I am HoChunk." I shared with him that he was in fact a first American and a little bit of what that meant. It made me start to think about heritage. My future son in law is Cherokee and with this little boy's statement it made me realize that many of our youth often may have no clue where their ancestors came from or even what a tradition is. I know it might even seem funny for the science teacher to try to figure out ways to even add it in her classroom, but sometimes learning about one's self and who we are and even where we came from allows for our students to make valuable connections in any classroom.
From the Hmong New Year to Cinco De Mayo from Kwanzaa to Hanukkah you can find ways to tie a story...writing idea or STEM activity to get your learners sharing! Here is how we did it in February...

Chinese New Year/Holiday Connections: 
This week marked the start of the Chinese New Year, the year of the dog. I teach an enrichment group of 16 fourth and fifth graders so it made me think how can I connect the two with reading, math, and a bit of STEM?

We sat in a circle, a bit of restorative practice and community building...and I began asking them what a tradition was. I shared the definition and then proceeded to share some of our family favorites. We have a pickle on our tree and if you find the pickle you get an extra gift. We tie dye t-shirts each fourth of July, we still have an Easter Egg Hunt, we play Christmas Bingo for prizes every year, and we on birthdays set out their favorite ice cream, drink, candy bar, and gum and decorate the table area in the morning when my kids wake up. We talked about holidays can have traditions as well as cultures. I gave them time to think and then we shared.

The Hook:
I then started to share about the Chinese New Year and what you might see on a placement at a Chinese Restaurant. We looked at the mat and figured out what year they were born in and what animal represents them. We also looked at what traits that they are suppose to possess.
Image result for chinese zodiac placemat
Making Connections Can Be Simple

Time to make those connections...my group was comprised of Hmong, Hispanic, African American, and Anglo students. I showed a video that gave them great background in the Chinese New Year! Love that it was made for kids by Panda Express (yum!)

STEM Activities and Challenges: 

We then were able to pick what Chinese New Year Activity they wanted to do...Chinese dragon puppet, Fortune Coin Purse, or Pagoda Structure. As we worked on our projects, I continued the discussion. This is where the magic happened...I asked our Hmong students what color clan they came from...One of them said White ...and another replied he didn't know. She went on to ask him to say mom...which he said, "mom"...she asked him to say mom in Hmong and she told him he was also white because of how he said it! We listened to traditional music while we worked and I shared a Dragon Dance on the Smartboard.

Another student asked me where I came from and I told them all that I was English, Scottish from the Narrn Clan, Bohemian and Austrian. They asked me about my clan. This my friends, is what it is all about...making connections with our students.
That day, we not only made amazing pagodas, coin purses, and dragon puppets, but we learned about Quinceaneras (when one of our students turns 15 she will have a special party as a rite of passage), special foods such as Pho everyone eats at holiday time, the Hmong New Year and how it is similar to the Chinese New Year in dance and outfits, our zodiac sign to just name a few! We must take opportunities to learn about our students and to let them interact and share. We can learn so much about each other and build a sense of community where our students can build bonds and friendships!

Looking for a four STEM ideas ready to go? From puppets to coin purses, pagodas, and fire crackers this pack is sure to get your learners talking and connecting! Find the STEM Chinese New Year Pack HERE!

How do you connect with your students? Do you have any classroom traditions? I would love to hear them. Leave me your amazing ideas in the comment section below!

Shop Science School Yard TPT store!

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!

Shop Science School Yard TPT store!

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!

Shop Science School Yard TPT store!

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!
Shop Science School Yard TPT store!

STEM Reindeer Activity and Science Connections

When students think about the holidays they often think of Christmas trees, candy canes, and reindeer. Celebrate the holidays through activities that will connect a story book to a science topic...then add a sprinkle of STEM for a great hands on project!

This will allow your learners the opportunity to investigate adaptations that help reindeer survive in their environment as well as add a bit of holiday fun in a hands-on academic way!

Objective: Investigate adaptations of a reindeer to find ways that reindeer are able to survive in the tundra and then apply it by making a reindeer that shows those adaptations.


  • QR codes that show reindeer facts (included in my Reindeer Pack)/ reading material that show reindeer facts/watch a video that shares reindeer facts
  • toilet paper rolls
  • brown pipe cleaners
  • brown pom poms
  • masking tape
  • brown construction paper
I use the Epic Book Reindeer by Dee Phillips. Epic books is free for educators!


1. What do you know about reindeer? Where do they live and what do you think they do to survive where it is so cold? 
2. Today, we are going to learn about reindeer and their adaptations that they have that helps them survive. An adaptation is a change in the body to fit a location.
3. Read the story Reindeer
4. Now, have them create an anchor chart that has them share what they learned. This is a great spot to introduce the STEM activity. 

If you have the pack...share with them the QR Code Reindeer Game. They will get time to Scoot around the room to find ways that reindeer adapt. This will help them when they create their reindeer out of supplies you will provide.  Give them the record sheet and have them collect information by scanning the qr codes for facts!

5. We then gather to add to our anchor chart. This is where I introduce the STEM activity. They will be creating a reindeer out of the materials provided. They must show adaptations that they learned and be able to provide evidence as to what they learned by drawing and labeling their STEM reindeer. 

6. After giving learners time to create their reindeer, we then share adaptations. We create a herd of reindeer for display in our classroom. If children get done early we have them create a habitat using a box display, cotton balls, green and brown paper, blue paper for water...

7. They each add a fact tent to the display sharing one thing from their facts they collected or what is on our anchor chart! 

I know tis' the season to add some fun STEM, but if you are like me...I am on evaluation and I want to make sure that if we are doing a hands-on STEM project that we are tying it into Science so that the academics goes hand in hand with the S in STEM! 

I have included the lesson and the STEM activity sheet! Sign up for my newsletter for more free ideas! Find it by following this link: STEM Reindeer Freebie...want more? QR codes, adaptation ideas, more STEM connections...find the complete pack here: http://bit.ly/SSYReindeerpack

This was a perfect time to integrate reindeer facts, an adaptation lesson, and STEM connection...on a side note...when I asked my second graders to share facts about real reindeer that live in the tundra before we read our story...each "fact" revolved around Santa and his reindeer. After reading our book and going through our QR code game...they really had a framework about other reindeer, not just Santa's! 
Shop Science School Yard TPT store!

Science Picture Books For Back To School

It is so very important to find great picture books to start off your school year, however science is often times put off to the side for lots of different reasons. However, I want to help you find some great picture books-both fiction and non-fiction that can springboard your science lessons!

Grabbing a science themed book that you can also use in your language arts lesson is one of the best ways to tie in the two subjects! The best part of a picture book can teach our students about the world around us as well as introduce a science concept or principle showing that science is all around us.
Use a story to bring a science concept to life or give them the background knowledge they need to make connections!

For a K-2 introduction to what science is all about is, What is Science written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. This book has great picture clues to show primary students that science from planets to rocks, to hurricanes, to animals...It gives you a way to start science curiosity and the springboard to asking questions about the world around them!

For 3-5 picture book, I love the book The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. It is about a girl and her dog who want to make the most magnificent thing. Why I love this book it shows her frustration and the fact that she quits because of it. It can give you a great opportunity to teach perseverance,  perspective, and positive growth mindset. As our older students have to work as a team to complete experiments it is important to set the stage for what it might take to succeed!

Not sure about other great picture books to use for your science lessons...here is a great post that shares over 100 perfect picture books for you to think about. Head on over to Geek Wrapped for their list of Science Books for Kids!

I am the facilitator of our school garden. When our kiddos come back to school I love to integrate a picture book when we go out to our garden to see the plant progress. Here are some of my go to garden picture books...

1. How Does Your Garden Grow? by Gerta Muller (perfect for a STEM Mary, Mary Quite Contrary activity!)

2. I love Up In The Garden and Down In The Dirt by Kate Messner. It gives an overall perspective of everything that happens in a garden over the course of a year.

3. I also love getting the littles outside so anytime I can read a story about colors, letters, or even numbers that is a bonus. I love Planting A Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.

I also want to share with you my favorite STEM books that can foster building with K-5th graders. For STEM activities for littles, take any nursery rhyme or fairy tale and tie it to STEM, but for older kids take any of Andrea Beaty books such as Ada Twist Scientist, Rosie Revere, Engineer, or even Iggy Peck, Architect.

Looking for more picture book ideas check out my friend Kim, over at Stress-Free Teaching for some more great back to school picture book ideas!

It is exciting to plan for the new school year. One of my favorite products for the back to school season that helps me tie in a ton of great picture books along with a holiday theme are my STEM seasonal packs!


Amazon is hosting a Black Friday Sale this Friday, and I didn't want them to be the only ones with great deals...Black Friday Sale On My STEM All Year Pack Here! (For checking out my blog is is up on sale today already!) The lowest price of the year! The price goes up Saturday so get the 32 STEM Activity Pack today! This deal is like getting two packs free! Great with any seasonal picture book! Let the STEM fun begin!
Shop Science School Yard TPT store!

Sustainability and The Three R's

This isn't new to us at our school...teaching about sustainability, energy, or even reducing, reusing, and recycling. We are a Green and Healthy School and with that comes some responsibilities when it comes to these concepts, but how can a classroom teacher integrate these ideas in a quick and effective way?

Reduce time in teaching these concepts by integrating a fun picture book that gets at the heart of helping the earth, conserving energy, or living a healthy life style.

Reduce time by using an activity easily found on the internet or use this freebie from my Earth Day Pack to help start you out!
                                         Grab you freebie here!

Sometimes it is nice to reuse an old lesson, but you just need a little refreshing! If you have a lesson on helping the Earth...how about save milk cartons, cut up cardboard boxes, and toilet paper rolls and now you have reusable supplies that build great towers! This is great for so many grade levels!

Teaching kids how to recycle and what to recycle is a great way to encourage a life long way to help the Earth. A fun game you can play is Separate the Trash. Bring in recyclables. Make cards labeled: glass, plastics, paper, garbage. Have teams take turns separating the trash and learning what is recyclable! You can even have them share ways to reduce or reuse items that are brought in. A great art project can stem from this activity, too!

Teaching sustainability is a great way to help kids become green and healthy.


Earth Day: Planting a Seed with Three Easy Steps

Wanting to teach about Earth Day, but don't know where to get started? First, don't just jump on the bandwagon without knowing a little bit about how Earth Day came to be...

Earth Day...How did this "holiday" even get started? The book that inspired Earth Day was the Silent Spring written by Rachel Carson which dealt with the state of the environment and what was happening to our air, water, forests, and animals.  Earth Day is the  largest secular holiday which beats Valentines Day and Halloween! 

1969...the year I was born...yes I am getting up there... people were getting really upset with what we were doing to our environment from the use of  DDT which significantly impacted the Eagle population to the pollution of our water ways caused by the dumping of chemicals into our rivers, lakes, streams  from factories around the country. 

The worst oil spill of the time occurred in 1969 as well. Senator Gaylord Nelson from my state of Wisconsin started taking a look at ways we could teach others about what we were doing to our environment. Our significant impact on the Earth from population growth to climate change continues to be a problem both politically and environmentally, but how can we continue to help our future generations learn about the importance of saving our Earth, going green, recycling, growing gardens, appreciating nature...without causing other issues? 

On April 22nd, 1970 the first Earth Day was celebrated.  Teach in's were used to help educate others on what impact we have on the Earth is and what the devastating impact Earth faces if we continue down this path. Grass roots levels organized to help the cause in 1970 with  over 20 million Americans celebrated Earth Day that first year!   The Environmental Protection Agency was created which  laid  the groundwork for the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act to name a few. 

How can we take what they did back in 1970 and teach our students that they can make a difference just by the choices they make? We want to help our students learn about the environment and we care about our world so that we all  can make good choices for our future! 

Here are three simple ideas:

1. Show a song or video. Then have them write about what they heard. This simple song is about 8 principles for a better world! Respecting and caring for ALL living things from trees to seeds, animals big and small...a great message!

2. Have students go outside and just take in their environment! Draw what they see. Write down what living things they can observe. Give them time to really look at their surroundings for plants and animals,  and nature!  Let them breath in the clean air. Then have them share ways to go green with each other! 

This one one of my favorite Earth Day memories! Sitting and taking it all in until you just need to share with the teacher what you saw!!!! I love her excitement as she is ready to tell me her observations!

3. Have them connect with an activity about sustainability or going green!
From STEM lessons, to sustainability concepts, or even an energy activity a hands-on science connection is a great way to get your students connecting with their environment and also become problem solvers as they tackle some of our environments biggest issues.

Displaying image.jpeg
Building a wind turbine can be complex or simple. Differentiating to meet your level of comfort is key. As an energy certified teacher, I made a wind turbine that can be tested after the students create their fans. You can produce wind powered cars...solar ovens, sun dials...All it takes though is planting that seed!

Taking the time to teach about Earth Day can come from a book, a video, a quick writing prompt or even a STEM project, but the important thing is that we are teaching our students to be stewards of the Earth and that EACH day can be EARTH day!  

Interested in any of the Earth Day challenges? Check out my Earth Day Resources HERE!

Let's celebrate the Earth! Stop by the Science School Yard TPT store for  an EARTH DAY FREEIBE, TOO!


STEM and Easter Connections Make Learners and Teachers HOPPY!

Sometimes it is just plain fun to plan for a holiday! I know that some people think it might be a waste of time, or it is just plain impossible to fit in...what if I told you that a small 30 minutes of STEM engagement is just what your learners need to develop problem solving skills, and team building strategies!

Why STEM? Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math expands to every part of our lives. Students are able to develop a passion for STEM challenges allowing them to be part of hands-on and minds-on lessons that will allow them to be exposed to potential occupations in the future. This can also help develop problem solving skills as well as help them build, modify, and share as a team!

Take for example, the four stations that I use with four different grade levels. If you just tuned in...I teach K-5th grade science to over 400 kiddos! LOVE it!

Here are three quick reasons that I use STEM around the holidays:
1. It allows for use of the engineering design model/process
2. It allows students to be able to use hands-on inquiry based strategies
3. It allows for students to apply science and math to what they are building which is real application to a given problem!

Our 5th graders make Jelly Bean Picker Uppers! Problem Solving and Team Building and under 30 minutes!

Our 4th graders work on egg protectors! Did I say problem solving and team building yet? I can get them to make and test in just roughly 30 minutes. Time constraints are key!

3rd graders are working on Easter Baskets with two pieces of paper and a small bit of tape! Problem solving using area/perimeter strategies is perfect for this team activity!

Finally, our 2nd graders build Peep Towers using paper and tape as well. Love to see their creativity added to problem solving and team building!

You can also use these activities with kindergarteners and first graders if they are up for a challenge!

I am also so HOPPY that you stopped by that I am sharing a fun Easter Freebie right here for you! Enjoy!

Powered by Blogger.