Thursday, March 21, 2019

Tied 2 Teaching - Full Year of STEM Activities Challenge Review

Hands on learning is not only completely the best fun, but it's also so educational!!  We recently had the opportunity to review the STEM Activities, FULL YEAR of Challenges with Close Reading pack from Tied 2 Teaching.

Hands-on science activities have been proven to actually allow students to enhance and encourage critical thinking skills.  Science topics are more than just reading from a book and mixing a few chemicals.  STEM Activities, FULL YEAR of Challenges with Close Reading opens students eyes to more than 70 STEM activities that center around seasons, historical events, architecture, and holidays.  It was created for students in Grade levels 3rd through 6th.  It is a very easy to download ZIP file that opens easily into PDFs.

Each activity includes links for research and close reading through the website Wonderopolis.  Students can visit the site using tablet (mobile device), laptop or desktop to do reading and research on various topics.  There is a printable question sheet, which you can either print out or use for a discussion with your students or group.  After the reading and discussion questions, the hands-on fun begins.  Students are presented with a challenge.  Material suggestions are given.  Most materials are everyday items, and items you have already or are easily accessible.  Each challenge taps into the student's critical thinking skills and encourages them to make a plan and think it out.  There are worksheets to help them brainstorm and go through steps to get started on their creation.  

When students have finished their creations and experiments are finished, there are also worksheets that students can use to record their scientific results.  They can record all their successes and also improvements that can be made in their research and design.

STEM Activities, FULL YEAR of Challenges with Close Reading is really print and go.  It can be used in classrooms, co-op settings, group activities, and with homeschool families.  It is very easily adaptable to all settings.  We used several of the activities, but I'm highlighting two below.  

4H season is upon us.  I'm a volunteer co-advisor for our group.  We were looking for a group activity for our first meeting.  I had just received the STEM Activities, FULL YEAR of Challenges with Close Reading pack and quickly found the balloon tower challenge.  This looked like a lot of fun.  This would make it so the kids could work together and start to get to know any of our new members and hang out with the regular members.  

The age suggestion through middle school is appropriate for the STEM Activities, FULL YEAR of Challenges with Close Reading.  The only kids that did not seem to enjoy the activity as much were the high school kids.  But they had fun watching the younger ones compete.  They also measured and even helped to blow up balloons.

Our competition ended up being boys against girls.  I didn't actually print any worksheets for this activity.  Worksheets and fill-ins are not a huge hit with our group.  I did print the suggestions and the challenge page.  I read to them from the Close reading on Wonderopolis.  And we then discussed their plans and then steps for building.  We walked between the two groups and made suggestions if we saw something.  But to be honest, we didn't need to make hardly any suggestions.  The kids did a great job planning and building in a limited time frame.  (Just to let you know...the girls won, by only 3 inches!)

For some reason, the kids seemed to be drawn toward the balloon projects in the STEM Activities, FULL YEAR of Challenges with Close Reading.  The other project I wanted to highlight was Design a Parade Balloon.  The girls loved this.  We did reading about parade balloon on Wonderopolis, and discussed the questions.  

The fact that I did not have to make the girls fill out the worksheets, and I was able to adapt this part of all the activities was awesome.  I LOVED that the projects were easily adaptable.  They used balloons, tissue paper and construction paper to make "parade balloons".

None of their balloons would actually fly, but the thought is what counts.  Caty was even inspired to try and fix her balloon bird nest that was breaking.  After some research she had done for this challenge, she said she felt inspired.  All encouraged from the Parade Balloon project.

STEM Activities, FULL YEAR of Challenges with Close Reading is a wonderful addition to any co-op, club meeting, classroom or homeschool family.  You can easily print and go, and have a fun and educational activity in minutes.  The challenges are adaptable to all learning types.  And this allows for more flexibility if you just need a day off from book work, but still need some type of learning to keep going on.  You can easily let your student pick out what they want to learn about, then print and you are ready to go.  

STEM Activities, FULL YEAR of Challenges with Close Reading is also extremely budget friendly.  Not only for the initial purchase, but also for supplies.  A few art supplies that you typically already have is usually what is needed.  We did not come upon anything in our review period that needed something fancy or unattainable.  

There are so many great benefits and educational experiences that the STEM Activities, FULL YEAR of Challenges with Close Reading pack provides families.  You can click on the link below to read more about other Schoolhouse Review Crew members who reviewed this program.  See what they thought and how they used the projects in their learning styles.

STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading {Tied 2 Teaching Reviews}
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