November STEM Challenges

Fun STEM idea for Thanksgiving.

Here comes Thanksgiving. As soon as Halloween is over my mind shifts to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No gifts, no stress, just a great meal with family and friends. It’s fun to celebrate Thanksgiving at school as well.

My focus has been on creating STEM challenges that work for my primary students. I have fallen in love with STEM challenges. I love watching my students design and build new solutions to problems. STEM is still new to my students so it gives me the opportunity to focus on the process – not the product. The Engineering Design Process creates an environment for exploration and creativity. It also constantly reminds the students that re-design is part of the process. The goal is to look at what worked, what didn’t work, and make it better next time. It’s a terrific life lesson.

Tie your STEM Challenges to literacy to increase interest.

I love tying my STEM challenges to literacy. It allows me to have an easy way to create critical background knowledge that my students so desperately need.

This November we will be thinking about how to add STEAM challenge. Most teachers are familiar with STEM but I love to add STEAM challenges. You know those challenges that require more “A” art.

I am loving the book Balloons over Broadway. it’s the true story of  Tony Sarg  who started creating balloons for the Macy’s Day Parade. Going to the Macy’s Day parade has been on my bucket list, and someday, I hope to actually go to NYC and watch those iconic balloons travel over my head.

But until then this STEAM challenge will have to do.

I start this STEM challenge by reading the book by Melissa Sweet.  It’s a great story that chronicles the history of the parade.

I want my students to feel like problem solvers.

I love the problem-solving aspect of the story – the exact message I want my kids to hear. On to the challenge we creat our own balloon puppets

I offer my students the choice to make whichever animal they want. They have to think about their design, think about the materials they will use and then put it all together.

I offer them a variety of choices. Shop now

I have some kids who want to be really creative so I have a design your own sheet for my creative kids. All you need are balloons, construction paper, tape, pipe cleaners, and straws.

Once the design pages are done  I create a class book of all the designs. I recommend taking a photo of your students holding their balloon and adding that to the book. It makes a great class book.

Step 1  Choose your animal and create your design, and make a plan. Decide on your balloon color and what construction paper you’ll need.

Step 2 Collect your materials and blow up the balloon.

Step 3  Put it all together.

Now just attach a pipe cleaner to the bottom of the balloon. Then “thread” the pipe cleaner through the straw. Support it with tape. Now your balloon will “stand up” when you hold it. I use heavy-duty tape, but be careful because if the kids try to move it once it’s attached to the balloon it could pop.

Here are a few more  tip

#1 Get big balloons. Check the colors included before you purchase. Most bags come with just primary colors. You’ll want pink, brown and black in order to make a better variety of balloons.

Here are Amazon links

Check out some other  samples

For the pig, we used the pink balloon.

We made a  peacock with a blue balloon.

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