3 Literacy Integrated STEM Activities Your Students Will Love - momgineer

3 Literacy Integrated STEM Activities Your Students Will Love

3 STEM Activities to Try When Reading Holes

A family curse. Incompetent adults. Troubled and falsely accused kids thrown together in a manual labor camp. Holes by Louis Sachar is a great story for middle grades kids, and it works so incredibly well as a read aloud. Your kids will laugh, become invested in the fate of the characters, and come up with wild theories about what will happen next as you read the story.

One way to feel like you are "in" a story is to work on a hands-on project. Dioramas are a classic example, and you can absolutely make a physical or digital map of Camp Green Lake as a fun whole class project. Why not take it one step further and incorporate STEM concepts as well for your next Holes novel study or book club?

1. Design and Create a Hammock

The hammock is just a background piece of the story, a part of the setting. It's a constant reminder to the kids, though, that they are not at Camp Green Lake for rest and relaxation.

Gather your materials:
  • cardboard tubes, chairs, boxes, or a wire hanger as the end supports
  • string, yarn
  • fabric scraps, nylon tablecloth
  • small figurine (Imagine it's the Warden. Of course the kids can't hang out in the hammock!)
Design and create the stands (to represent the oak trees) and the hammock. Come up with an idea and a plan for the design. Create it and then test it out. Does it stand or fall down? Does it support the weight of the character without deflecting so much that the hammock doesn't touch the ground? Your students can even make it entirely out of string!

2. Design and Create a Digging Tool

It wouldn't be Holes STEM without this challenge. This is actually a really tough challenge! I require that my kids use at least two different materials. The hole must also be a specific size (diameter + depth - try about 5 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep).

Gather your materials:
  • sandbox, loose dirt, bin of play sand, kinetic sand, etc.
  • duct tape
  • craft sticks, straws, cardboard tubes, small plastic cups, etc.
Get ready to dig! Imagine digging a huge 5 foot hole. How do these kids even get out? I don't know that I'd be able to get out of a 5 foot hole! You can have your students design a way to simply get out (maybe a rope ladder that another camper holds for them, or a ramp? If you want to revisit simple machines, this is a great time to do it!).

3. Design and Create Palindrome Art

I often get asked about STEAM challenges. This is a fun STEM challenge with a lot of open ended options! You can choose to make it a pencil-and-paper challenge or a digital challenge.

I love palindromes. Something about them has just always appealed to me. Since Stanley Yelnats is a palindrome, why not make some palindrome art? Search for palindrome phrases online and then either illustrate the palindome or create word art with it!

Palindromes that might be fun to illustrate:
Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo.
Madam, I'm Adam.

Palindromes that might be fun to turn into word art:
Lonely Tylenol 
Yo, banana boy!

*PLEASE READ - there are some lists of palindromes out there that may not be suitable for your kids to read and/or illustrate. One fairly benign example is:

As I pee, sir, I see Pisa. 

While not terrible, the possible illustrations that could accommodate this palindrome may not be appropriate! Fair warning.

More Holes STEM Challenges

In addition to the 3 challenges above, I have created a full resource to support the 3 challenges mentioned (with engineering terminology, recording sheets, etc.), additional challenges, and an inventor's workshop activity after finishing the book. I'd love for you to check it out!


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3 Easy STEM and STEAM Activities When Reading Holes | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

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