Have I ever told you that our 9 year old likes to do projects. He is a Lego building, paper crafting, hands on learner that loves to do projects. He asks me if he has any projects for school and I usually have to tell him, "No, I'm sorry dear." When I heard about the STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading by Tied 2 Teaching, I knew that this would be just the thing for him. I was right.
With more than 70 challenges (hands on-projects) to choose from, if you do one a week, it will last you for more than a year. There are challenges for holidays throughout the year like Christmas and Valentine's Day. They didn't forget about other special days like the 100th day of school and Groundhog Day. There are challenges to design a bug, a super hero, or treasure chest. He loved that he had so many choices! I didn't care which ones that he did, so I gave him the freedom to choose which ones that sounded interesting. He thought that was so great!
When we received the activities, I downloaded them all to my computer so that I didn't need to be online to use them. Then our 9 year old and I scanned through them so that he could see all of his choices. He was excited to see so many of them that he will be able to choose from. He ended up choosing "Design a Droid", "Design a New Hat for a Cat", "Design a House of Cards", and "Design a Building Block Structure".
These Stem activities are both parent and child friendly. What I mean by that is that there is something educational about these challenges as well as an element of fun. The educational portion of these challenges are the worksheets and reading that go along with them. These are not just activities to get your child to build something. There are pages to work through to plan what they will make. Then there are pages to complete after they are done with the project.
I love that there is a story to read that goes with each challenge. He read "Do Robots Wonder?", "Who Invented the Hat?", "Do You Like to Play Cards?", and "How Tall is the Eiffel Tower?" These stories really helped him, and me, see that there is science and learning in all that we do. You know how sometimes you get in a rut and just do the same things all of the time. These activities really opened my eyes to remember that learning is all around us. These stories and planning pages helped me to see that when he is doing an activity, he is learning valuable lessons. These activites are made for 3-6th graders. Since he is at the lower end of this age range, we discussed most of the pages together instead of having him write everything. I didn't want his writing and spelling abilities to disrupt his thinking and reasoning skills.
I was not surprised that he chose the "Design a Droid" challenge first because he loves the droids in Star Wars. He was able to use anything in the house to build his droid so he went searching around to see what he could find. Well, we had just emptied a tissue box and then he found some index cards. I think that he made a pretty great droid. He says that it is something like a vacuum bot, but it also has a memory card so that it can be a secret spy and send messenges.
Next, he chose to make "Design a Building Block Structure". He was able to use his Legos for this and he was thrilled about that. To be honest, this one had him stumped for a few days. I wanted to give him time to think through what he needed to do before I jumped in to guide. He started to make the base of the tower. He is used to us saying, "make sure that it has a firm foundation" and "give the pieces support" that he was making this thing to last for centuries. I finally had to jump in and remind him that he was building the tallest tower, not the strongest. I know in the picture it shows that he was touching it, but in order to complete the challenge, the tower had to stand up on its own. It did, I just didn't reallize I didn't get a picture without him touching the top.
Then came the "Design a New Hat for a Cat" challenge. Ok, so he wanted to wear the hat, and we don't have a cat, but he liked completing this challenge as well. One day, when we went over to Grandma's house, they made it together. Grandma was very proud of how they got the paper to go around in a circle and attach to the paper plate. Way to go, Grandma!
Finally was the "Design a House of Cards" challenge. He thought that this was going to be a walk in the park and that it wouldn't take long. He soon realized that it is much harder than it looks. He first started with a regular deck of cards. He found these to be slippery and difficult to work with. He decided to use his Yu-Gi-Oh cards which are not slippery and are thicker. These seemed to be easier for hikm to use, but it still took him some time to get a second layer on there. This was a great lesson in patience and persistence.
Here's what he had to say about these activities:
I really liked that you can just use your own household items and things that are laying around the house. I think that they need to keep adding more projects to do in the future.
We really enjoyed these STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading by Tied 2 Teaching. We will continue to use these throughout the year. These will especially be useful when the baby comes! He can still do projects, but I know that there is some guided learning in there as well.
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