Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Just Can't Get Enough of that Christmas STEM!

I just love finding fun seasonal activities that students can get excited about!
I'm going to be adding some Christmas, and then move into January, so we all have something to look forward to. Some are free, and some cost.

Here are a few freebie ideas!
I ran across these ideas on Pinterest, but you will find full details at This Blog.

Here is another one from the Polka Dot Patch.
It is simple to set up, easy to give instructions, and at the same time scientific!

Gingerbread Man Trap: Engineering Challenge Project ~ Grea
This is one of my favorite little freebies. I love using it with the rest of my gingerbread unit.

This is my own favorite product. To find out more about my entire Gingerbread unit Click Here, or you can click on the picture to go right to my store for the Heathy Houses. You will find that I am not a purist. I use the "good stuff" from everyone. I like to have students do some reading, writing, and research; as well as the science and art part of it. 

I forgot to check Art with Jenny K, so I didn't get to the coloring part this year, but will next year.

This isn't a STEM project, but it could be part of a STEAM project, 
and I just love Art with Jenny K and her work. 

I love making these ornaments, and I just found an even better way to do them.
I actually have extra large styrofoam cups for mine, but I love this idea. It is not nearly as messy. The only problem, is that the students are mixing their own solution.
Now the question is, do you do it in December or January. I have done both, but to be honest, I usually do it in January because it is hard to get to in December. Either works. 

I love studying about the snow, because even though we are just an hour away from the snow, some of my students have never seen any. Once in a blue moon, we actually get snow in our little community, but not very often. If you have never purchased snow, then I recommend that you give it a try. The most economical way is to purchase it in quantity. 
I usually get mine from Steve Spangler

I purchased the little tubes- one for each group, but then I refill them each year.
Click on either picture to go to 

If you would like more resources on snow, then click on the picture below. 
I have quite a few links on my webpage. These links are on the right side of the page.

Here are some more STEM projects:
STEM All Wrapped Up! - Engineering a Gift Box
Not a Free item, but it is half price at the time of this posting.

STEM Snowball Frenzy: An Engineering Exploration of Levers

I discovered Get Caught Engineering on Pinterest. This store is all about STEM.
Here is one of this store's free products:
STEM Essentials: The Nitty Gritty of Teaching STEM

STEM-tastic Rovers! Edible Engineering

Free Candy Cane Activities: Activities and printables for math, science, reading, and technology on this post. Perfect for December!
Although this is a Christmas deal, I personally think it should be used in January, because I always have leftover candycanes. Of course this year, I'm going to use some of them for my 
Click on the candy cane picture to find out how Jennifer Findley uses candy canes in her classroom.

Here is another favorite of mine, which can be done at Christmas, but it also can be done at anytime during the year. Sometimes I even do it for Mother's Day.
Salt Candle: For Christmas, Mother's Day or Anytime
This is actually a 3-Pak for Christmas, Mother's Day, or anytime.

This is a Freebie by Faiytales & Fiction.

S.T.E.M. - Christmas Project
Another Freebie!

This one is not Free, but I couldn't resist. 
STEM Christmas Challenge: Elf Stuck on a Shelf!
I am definitely doing this next year!

For more freebies, check out my Freebies Pinterest Page where I pin all the freebies that I would like to use.

If you would like to see all the freebies I have made CLICK HERE, because I have quite a few!
Thanks so much for following along on this little look into STEM activities.

I hope you find a project for both Christmas and when you return to the classroom.
Please leave me a note and let me know your favorite STEM project.

I'm adding one last thing that I just found.
Maker Space FREE Guide to Getting Started

Monday, December 21, 2015

Truth: FREE Games for Student Response - Comparing the Best

I just read another enlightening article comparing three excellent programs for classroom use: by Melissa Pilakowski. She really did a fantastic job explaining each one in her blog, so you will want to click on her name to see what she has to say about each one.
I have to say that I have only used Kahoot, but Iam expanding my horizons, and am so excited about adding these response systems to my classroom.


There is More!

Melissa Pilakowski has used and evaluated out even more technology that we can use in our classrooms.
Melissa has a very nice chart on her blog for the quick comparison, but she has a paragraph or two about each program, so take a look!
Which ones do you use? 
Which Student Response System will you use next?
Please drop me a note to let me know what you are using. I'm still learning and want to know what works best in your class. This could be a great discussion.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

ED Puzzle: Free Technology for Teachers

ED Puzzle is an amazing tech tool to help teachers shorten video clips so you can use what you need and trim the parts you don't need. It also works with Goggle Classroom.

Here is how it works:

I found out about ED Puzzle because I follow Free Technology for Teachers
written by Richard Berne. I have not been following Richard for very long, but I have already learned about some amazing programs for teachers. If you have the time, I highly reccommend that you check out Free Technology for Teachers.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Christmas STEM project ~ Healthy Gingerbread Houses

It is a lot of work to do gingerbread houses, but I just love creating them! One of these years I am going to try building the houses the day before the decorating. I think they will hold up better.

Each year that I have students make gingerbread houses, I never know what I will get. Some kids "get into it" and some don't. This year I had several students jump on the creativity bandwagon and work to design their houses. This was inspirational to others. I left my phone at home, so I had to borrow a friend's phone to take the pictures.
Usually we find dried grapes at the dollar store, but they were plum out of them this year, so a student brought frozen peas. They were actually a hit!

Next year I'll make sure to have more kiwi, so kids can cut it and use it to decorate.
The little plastic knives worked great for cutting dried fruit as well as the graham crackers.

A couple of kids built garages.

Before showing more pictures I must admit something. I have to say that it is not all fun and games. The students were learning RI 5.5 ~ Comparing and Contrasting information from two or more texts. After studying about the history of gingerbread, I wrote an article (which I have to admit that I have not published yet-- but will), and two other great articles that happen to be free.
This Close reading passage by The Sweet Thing, is really a great reading project.

Here is another great reading article.

I don't know how the chocolate Frosty found its way into the classroom, nor the candy cane which was supposed to be a science experiment.

See the gramham cracker on the roof? that is actually a large screen TV, and the cookie is a special couch for viewing movies on top of the garage.

Peanut butter was our glue. The healthy ingredients included dried pineapple (the path) frozen peas because the student couldn't find the dried ones, banana chips, dried cranberries, dried kiwi and sliced almonds. I also purchased a couple of bags of dried apples, and coconut, but the tables that got those ended up eating most of them. Apparently, they were really tasty. I didn't have as many ingredients this year, but it worked out fine.

If you are interested in building your own healthy houses, you might want to check out 
There is a great list of healthy items. I try to get a balance of driend fruits and veggies, but there are so many more dried fruits out there than dried veggies. There is also a "My Plate" in the presentation to refer to. 

Last year I used pistachios, cereal, coconut as well as all the stuff I used this year. One year I used dried beats and corn. 

I didn't get to make this with the kiddos, but maybe I will next year.

Here is a Freebie I haven't tried yet, but plan to:
If you click on the picture, you will jump right to the Freebie.

The Power of Painting With the Polar Express

The Polar Express is one of my all-time favorite Christmas stories.

I don't do a lot with the Polar Express simply because my students are older, but the kids do read the story, and paint the picture.

We painted polar express pictures today, which was a real hit with my students. They love mixing colors. 
I do cheat a bit because I use a train color page to paint the picture. If you click on the pictures below, it will take you to the link to use the free pages.

Jen Bradshaw, from Teacher, has done an amazing job of putting together some Polar Express activities. Check these out: