Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Colorful World of STEM

Hi! It's Carolyn from Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together.  I am JUST about to start my new school year with my new class, tomorrow.  I'm so excited to make this a rich, rewarding year of love and learning for each of my new students.

This  year, our school is incorporating STEM as one of our special areas.  I'm so excited that our school values all that STEM involves.

Dr. Jean has a FABULOUS explanation of the components and benefits of STEM on her website this month. She gives examples of exactly what STEM is as well as lots of FREEBIES from our packets that we've made, and a bundle of those packets for sale.

Over the years, STEM has evolved from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, to STEAM, which also includes Art, and now STREAM to include Reading as well.  I think this evolution has occurred because educators realize the importance of student learning through integrated subject areas.  Remember Thematic Learning and Unit Studies?  They worked!

The best learning isn't done by serving children chopped up bits of unrelated information.  Children learn best with intentional teaching for active, playful, challenging learning that integrates subject areas like Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math, with the 21st century skills of cooperation, collaboration, communication, and creativity.

Dr. Jean and I have had so much fun making thematic packets that include practice for all of these skills. She has a page on her website this month that explains that it looks like playing but...
And the "but" part of that statement  is the meat of the learning.  And, OH, what they learn!

We have just completed another packet perfect for the beginning of the year all about Colors.

The packet includes a Color Prezi- that's great for introducing and reinforcing lessons, 20 QR codes for color stories and the science of colors, 21 writing prompts to go with color stories, and lesson plans for lots of STREAM activities.  Finally, the packet includes two of Dr. Jean's songs about colors!

I made the QR codes into books for the children for the beginning of the year. These QR Code Books are perfect for our listening center. The kids LOVE the stories.  

We also have writing prompts for each of the stories in the packet to go with the QR code, for an extension activity!  Or for later in the year when your students are more ready to write. The prompts also have the QR code on them, so the kids can take the story home with them and listen any time they want!

Go Away Big Green Monster is always one of my favorite books to share in the beginning of the year. The first time I read the story, I use it as a listening activity.  The children listen to the monster's description and draw as I read- without seeing the pictures.  It's very telling- and lots of fun!
Then, I read the story (usually over and over and over) on the rug so they can see the pictures. Finally, the children share and show the monster they drew. 

The great thing about this share is that there is always at least one fabulous part of each drawing- the big yellow eyes or the long bluish, greenish nose... It's a great way to have the children start noticing good things about each other's work.

Here is the video that is on the QR code that the kids LOVE!  
If you'd like a copy of this writing prompt, just click the picture below.  The prompt also has the QR code on it so the children can take the story home with them.  

The first two full weeks of school are our "Color Weeks."  Each day the children wear a specific color, and  I take a picture of us all dressed in our color. We make a Colorful Class book and a Crazy Colorful Class book with silly pictures. 

  I also put these up beside our door in the hall or in our classroom as color word anchor charts.
The packet includes book covers and color word pages for these books.

When we study green, I also love to use  Little Blue and Little Yellow, by Leo Lionni. It's a great introduction to color mixing.  Here's an example of one of our activities in the Color Packet that I use when we learn about green. The activities are all set up this way, and  have book suggestions to go with them.

I start off my year with this Colors Packet and ideas from I am a Scientist.  These packets are a great introduction to science for children, because they LOVE the activities- and therefore begin school LOVING science. Win! Win!

Here is an overview of the I am a Scientist packet.
Here is a list of all we included. It's a great variety of STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math) activities.   
The Shoe Classification activity is fun for any time of the year- and a great way to help your students understand that scientists observe, classify, hypothesize, test, and conclude.  This activity is a perfect way to explain and reinforce those vocabulary words, too. This is one of the first activities I do with the kids as we talk about sorting and classifying.  
The children learned how important sorting and classifying is in a fun way.  Start with a simple attribute to sort by, then get progressively more tricky! Then, choose a student to sort by an attribute.  They love it!
fluorescent yellow on the sneaker
laces/ no laces!
tied/ untied
It's interesting to see which traits are tricky and which aren't.  They get really fast at the game quickly. And they love to see how fast they can solve the mystery!

Scientist of the Week is another winner.  My children cannot wait for their week.  You can make as much or as little of this as you want.  I try to have my Scientist of the Week have a chance to lead a discussion (ask questions), choose videos, and make some decisions so he/she feels special.  It's simple for me, but huge for them!

The Prezi has the videos that are on the QR codes, too, so I used the Prezi to teach and the QR codes as a center to reinforce the concepts.  I zoom in on either the "I am a Scientist" or "The Scientific Method" slide and leave it up on the Smart TV for science so the kids see it as a huge poster.  Those slides are also both anchor charts included in the packet.  I print them both for each student to put in their own Science Journals.

I hope you found some fun STEM/STEAM/STREAM activities to do in your classroom.  There is nothing like hands-on learning for children.
Have a wonderful school year!

No comments:

Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment below....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...