I work as an SLP in a developmental preschool setting. My office is just down the hall from our district’s “Project Lead the Way” (STEM) administrator and I have been adding some mini STEM experiences as companion activities to my weekly book units. These activities could grow easily to suit early elementary learning. I hope they stretch you to think STEM in the little things. It’s literally all around us!
Goldilocks and the Three Bears: I made pillows that were all the same shape, but fit different descriptors in size (big, medium, small), firmness (soft, hard, “just right”), and… with the help of a microwave and freezer on site… “hot”, “cold”, and “just right.” I added pictures on a laminated board with a dry erase marker to describe in a sort of experiment checklist. Did we find something hot? Yes! We found something hot! Add some gallon size plastic baggies and I can swap out the pillows inside to a set of clean bags or wipe them clean between rooms.
Any “SNOW” themed book: The key here is to wait until there is snow (or if you don’t live somewhere where there is snow….. try this with solid frozen water vs. pieces of ice). I have two giant glass jars that I put something that fits our theme for the season, month, or book. Snow comes and I pack one full of loose snow (less dense) and the other I put in a bunch of packed snow. Use sticky notes to show how much water was in the bottom of the jar after 30 minutes, 1hr, etc. Which one melted faster? Was there more water?
“Bear Wants More” by Karma Wilson: To talk about quantities, put items into big clear plastic baggies again, and have them look, look, look to see which they think has more. Talk about guessing (estimates) and measuring (counting). Maybe go on a nature walk to grab up leaves, acorns, rocks, etc with two bags per student. Have one bag be “less” and the other be “more.” If you have more feathers, does it weigh more than less acorns? Does it take up the same space? If outside isn’t an option, grab any manipulatives that make sense.
“Bounce” by Doreen Cronin: Grab a variety of items and place in a large bag or box (opaque is more fun!), show a visual for Things that Bounce and Things that DO NOT Bounce. Give each item a drop onto a smooth hard floor, we use the floor, and put each item into the category of “It Bounced!” and “It did NOT Bounce.” We learned that not all balls bounce, and the item that caused the most giggles was the diaper that did NOT bounce. It was new, we promise!
“Marvin K Mooney (Would You Please Go Now)”/ “Oh, The places you will Go” by Dr. Seuss: Or, any book about directions/going. For an introduction to coding concepts (yes!), this idea comes from my phenomenal teachers who have been working through the Creative Curriculum. They are taking gaffer’s tape and creating directional arrows throughout our school and on a gaffer’s tape “grid” that will grow as the children gain confidence following the different arrows for right/left/straight/backwards movement.
Author: Amanda Owens, SLP