August 2016 - momgineer

Back to School STEM - Team Builders and Activities

Back to school time can be filled with stress, for both you and the students. With the transitions and demands of a new school year, you might not think you have time to do something that seems like an end of the year treat with your new students. While going over procedures and expectations is on the top of your list, I hope you will consider using some unique team-building and ice-breaking activities with your students. They will help build trust and cooperation and start off the new year on the right foot! Watch the video or read on:

A Tower STEM Challenge 

One of the most fun back to school STEM challenges is the No Peeking challenge! If you have ever tried a STEM challenge with your students before, there is a good chance it involved tower building. Whether you used cups, blocks, marshmallows and spaghetti, or some other material, this is a very common starter STEM challenge.

Back to school STEM gives it a slightly different twist! You can see in the image above what that is. That's right, for this challenge, the builder will be blindfolded (or have their eyes shut!). That means the rest of the team needs to tell the builder how and where to build the tower using verbal commands. Tower building has never been so difficult, or more fun!

There are several modifications for this one but I know it's one your students will be talking about for weeks! Here's another action shot with a variation (behind the back tower building - this is not only a mental challenge but a physical challenge as well):

Brain Busting STEM Challenge - Memory Dash 

Another fun cooperative challenge that will also stretch your students' brains? Memory Dash!

Memory Dash requires the students to plan, in a team, how they can recreate a pre-made structure. The catch? They need to commit the structure to memory first, then instruct the rest of their team on how to build it (without helping in the actual building). It sounds simple but it can be extremely challenging. Each student can then have a chance being the "instructor."

The plan is actually quite important, which they will quickly realize the first time through the challenge. Subsequent attempts will go much more smoothly as they tweak their communication and assembly process! Tip: keep the structure simple and have each team recreate the same one. Use simple manipulatives like cubes, dice, etc. Time the challenge with a stopwatch or timer. Your students will hopefully improve their assembly times with each attempt, using what they learned from previous attempts.

This challenge can give students a great perspective into what your job is like as a teacher. Because one of the team members needs to instruct the rest of the team, they need to make sure they not only communicate clearly, but that the rest of the team is actually listening to what they are saying and then following through on it!

Back to School STEM Pencil Challenge

In addition to the team builders included in the Back to School STEM resource I put together, there are also individual challenges that can be done when you need to take a brain break, or if you need tasks for early finishers. One of these is even practical for your classroom: the Pencil Keeper Challenge!

Do your students lose track of where their pencils are? They may be more apt to keep them where they belong if they have a device they've made on their own. They can take pride in it every time they use it! You can also have them design pencil keepers to host pencils in various parts of the classroom if you'd like! I hope these give you some ideas of ways you can start off the new school year with STEM! If you are looking for more ideas or recording pages for these and more ideas, please consider visiting:

Back to School STEM Activities and Icebreakers - Meredith Anderson Momgineer 

Pin to come back later:
Back to School STEM Icebreakers and Team-Building Activities - Meredith Anderson Momgineer

Have a great school year!

*Photos by Snapshots by Amy
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

How to Rock Your Math Block

When you hear the word FLUENCY what comes to mind? For most teachers, when we think about lessons related to fluency, we almost always think about reading fluency. We all know about the importance of reading fluency and its role in reading comprehension. But what about math fluency? What is it, why is it so important, and how do we help our students develop it? 

Math Fluency Broken Down

    Simply put, math fluency usually manifests itself in two forms: math fact fluency and math procedures fluency. When a student is ‘’fluent’’ in these areas, they can recall math facts and perform math operations with ease and automaticity. Because math skills are cumulative, it’s easy to see why activities (that are engaging & fun) that focus on and help to develop math fluency are so vital!  
    All teachers know how important it is to have students learn and practice math skills in various settings, such as in groups or independently. But it’s not always easy to find versatile math activities that lend themselves to both independent and group work. This set of task cards works well for both and has many engaging elements that will grab (and hold!) your student’s attention as they learn. Imagine their enthusiasm as they get to play the ever-popular SCOOT game while learning math!

Math For Various Learning Styles

    As teachers, we are always looking for math resources that appeal to various learning styles, right? Chances are, your class list is comprised of a complex mixture of auditory learners, kinesthetic learners, and visual learners. The challenge is to find something that works for all of those learners. These math bingo games were created with all of those learning styles in mind! Every student wants to become fluent in their math skills so they can do well in the Math Bingo games! These game sets can be played in a variety of ways, ensuring that everyone’s a winner! 
Math Bingo Games Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Stock Your Math Centers

    Speaking of variety, sometimes we get so busy with life, lesson planning, and all of our day-to-day teaching duties, that we forget to include lessons that include variety. Variety, in this case, relates to applying concepts and skills to many different math tasks. It’s worth remembering that when kids get to apply their knowledge and skills, especially math-related skills, to a wide array of activities and tasks, the retention level of those skills skyrockets dramatically! When we’re just too busy to create fabulous lesson plans, with tons of much-needed variety, here are some math resources that are perfect for filling that need! When you’re looking for activities to incorporate into your Math Centers, this large and lively bundle of math station activities will make your math center planning a breeze. There’s even a freebie with a demo to show you how the bundle of games work! 

More Math Games

Share Your Ideas

    What are your thoughts on math fluency, adding variety in lesson plans and activities, and planning activities for various learning styles? I’d love for you to take a moment and share your best practices in the comments area below (scroll way down)!

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!