Soft Start STEM Activities

Have you ever tried STEM soft starts?

As back-to-school preparations are amping up amongst teachers, I wanted to share one of my favorite ways to start a new day with my students- STEM soft starts!

Soft starts in general are a way for students to come in and get mentally ready for the day. STEM is the perfect way to do this. It naturally gets students thinking critically and creatively which puts them in the right mindset to get the day off to a great start. Having STEM soft starts ready to go will have your students designing, creating, engineering, predicting, comparing, building, & reflecting on their challenges.

You can set up STEM soft start stations using supplies you have in the classroom. This can be Legos, pipe cleanerspopsicle sticks, magnets, cards, etc.

My STEM Quick Challenges Resource is perfect for STEM Soft Starts.

The STEM School Box Challenges is a packet of 12 STEM Challenges that will fit into a school box which makes them perfect for STEM Soft Starts or when students arrive at school early. This packet contains Challenge Label, Inside the Box Student’s Directions, a Teacher’s Page with the directions and materials, and Student STEM Journal.

These activities can also be used for STEAM Activities, Maker Spaces, Tinkering Labs, or After School Clubs. Your students will love designing, creating, engineering, predicting, comparing, building, & reflecting on their challenges!

Here’s what’s included:

  • Index Card Tower
  • House of Cards
  • Pipe Cleaner Bridge
  • Popsicle Stick Catapult
  • Army Parachute
  • Fidget Spinners
  • Building Squares Structures
  • Dominoes Diving Board
  • Packing Peanuts Structures
  • Triangle Structures
  • Button Designs
  • Button Towers

Make sure to check it out here!

Essentials For The Perfect STEM Makerspace!

Do you have a STEM Makerspace set up in your classroom or school? 

STEM is a great way to get students working on multiple subjects at one time. It combines science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into one and usually takes the form of an educational challenge for students to work through. Sounds fun, right? 

makerspace

To optimize time working on STEM in the classroom, I like to have a designated area, or Makerspace, that we can use again and again. 

What is a Makerspace? 

Makerspaces, also called Tinkering Labs, Learning Labs, or even STEM Labs, are essentially dedicated spaces for hands-on STEM learning. These spaces are great for allowing students to use their creativity to explore and learn different STEM concepts. 

What makes a good Makerspace? 

There are so many things you could include in your STEM Makerspace, the sky really is the limit here! Here are some of my favorite supplies to have on hand for the perfect STEM Lab or Makerspace. 

  1. Dual-sided Fiberglass Tape
  2. Origami Paper
  3. Assorted Ocean Animal Figures
  4. Assorted Animal Figures (zoo, farm, pets, etc)
  5. Food Grade Mineral Oil
  6. Paper Streamers
  7. Plastic Storage Containers
  8. Storage Bins
  9. Stopwatches
  10. Building Straws
  11. Food Coloring
  12. Expandable Ball Toy
  13. Craft Sticks
  14. Paper Fasteners
  15. Washi Tape
  16. Measuring Tape
  17. Buttons
  18. Hole Punch
  19. Building Flakes
  20. Mini Mirrors

For even more ideas, check out my full Amazon List here! 

I hope these ideas help you get the perfect STEM Lab set up for your students. What are your favorite items to have in your Makerspace? Let me know in the comments! For some fun STEM activity ideas, check out some of my favorites here!

The Perfect Books To Pair With STEM Activities

Have you read any great books with your students lately? If you know me, you know that I absolutely love all things STEM and books! In fact, I have created multiple resources that connect these two passions of mine that you can check out here. 

Today, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite STEM books. These books are the perfect pair to a STEM activity because they will get students thinking critically and problem-solving. They are great for upper elementary to middle school students.

Check out these STEM books to find your next favorite! 

`1. Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars by Brooke Smart

2. Up in the Leaves: The True Story of the Central Park Treehouses by Shira Boss

3. Flip! How the Frisbee Took Flight by Margaret Muirhead

4. Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy

5. Here Comes the Garbage Barge! by Jonah Winter

6. The Secret Subway by Shana Corey

7. Jonas Hanway’s Scurrilous, Scandalous, Shockingly Sensational Umbrella by Josh Crute

8. If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche

9. Dream Something Big by Dianna Hutts Aston

10. Where Is the Brooklyn Bridge? by Megan Stine

Now that you have some books to start with, you may be wondering: what are some STEM Project Ideas?

Here are some resources that pair with other great STEM books!

Because Of The Rabbit

stem books resource

f you read Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord this is the resource for you!  Because of the Rabbit STEM Challenge and Literature Resources is a packet of literacy activities that pair perfectly with this engaging book.

Shouting At The Rain

STEM books resource

Love Shouting At the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt? This is the resource for you!  Shouting At the Rain STEM Challenge and Literature Resources is a packet of literacy activities that will get your students engaged in STEM and reading.

The Friendship War

STEM books resource preview

If you read The Friendship War by Andrew Clements you’ll love this STEM activity!  The Friendship War STEM Challenge and Flipbook is a packet of literacy activities that your students will love and be engaged in while reading the novel.

For more STEM fun, make sure to check out my latest blog post here.

Top 3 Summer STEM Activities Students Will Love

Summer is here and it’s time for relaxing in the sun with the smell of sunscreen in the air. But that doesn’t mean that the learning has to stop! Just make it extra fun. How do you do that? STEM! 

STEM stands for Science Technology, Engineering, and Math. It’s my favorite subject because it incorporates all of these subjects plus reading, researching, critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and even some history, all at once. What’s not to love? 

Summer STEM activities are the perfect way to get students engaged in learning during those hot and sunny days because it allows them to have a lot of open-ended exploration while learning. If you’re looking for some summer STEM challenge ideas, you’re in the right place. 

What is a STEM challenge for kids? 

An example of simple STEM activities for kids would be something where students are given an educational problem to solve and they need to come up with a solution to solve it or they need to build something. It’s so amazing to see their creativity flourish as they all put their own unique spin on the answer! 

What are some STEM challenges? 

Ready to get started with some amazing summer STEM activities for elementary students? I have you covered! Here are some of my absolute favorite STEM challenges for kids that are perfect for fun summer learning. Each of these activities is a unique, hands-on experience that will take students through the STEM process as they work to complete the challenge. 

Paper Airplane STEM Challenge

This is a packet of experiments your students will love! Flying and creating paper airplanes is a fun activity that will engage your students as they collect data and use measurement skills. Includes Google Slides for remote learners. 

  • A great literature connection is added as students research the history of airplanes and the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Bessie Coleman. 
  • Also, these activities can also be used for STEAM Activities, STEM Fun Fridays, Maker Spaces, Tinkering Labs, Summer Programs, or After School Clubs.

Camping STEM Challenges

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Camping-STEM-Challenges-Digital-Distance-Learning-3826210

This resource includes three activities that your students will love while exploring the theme of camping. Students will design and construct boats, tents, and fishing poles. These challenges will engage your students as they design, engineer, and test their creations. Students will go through the Engineering Process as they build and test their creations using various materials to construct them. 

Your students will love designing, creating, and engineering. They will problem solve and think critically as they complete their challenges. 

Tip: It is important to keep the challenges open-ended so students will start thinking about other challenges or tests they would like to perform.

Frog Jumping STEM Challenge

summer stem activities

STEM Jumping Frog Challenge is a fun STEM activity that your students will love as they create origami frogs to test their jumping abilities. Students will problem solve and think critically as they complete their challenges. 

Your students will love going through the design process as they cover the Next Generation Science 3-5-ETS1-1 & 

You’ll love how excited students get when testing their frogs and testing how far their frogs will jump! Students can use paper folding instructions to construct their frogs.

I hope you have lots of fun this summer with these STEM challenges! If you want more summer STEM fun, check out my post here!

Awesome STEM Activities For Indoor Recess That Students Will Love

The weather is getting colder and that means that it is the time of year we will start spending our recess time inside. While we can still have fun, we are a little more limited in the ways to let the kids play or the things they can do. 

I love using inside recess to create and to build, and STEM is a great way to do that! STEM is great for recess because generally, it doesn’t even feel like learning! It is a hands-on activity that students love doing, so they won’t mind spending their recess on it.

A great way to incorporate it into your recess time is by setting up STEM stations. Come up with 3 or 4 STEM activities (depending on the length of your recess)  that you love and put stations or centers up around your classroom with all of the supplies needed. Let students wander to the station that appeals to them or put them in groups and rotate them every 10 or so minutes. 

I do recommend keeping it a little more structured so that you can ensure all of the STEM supplies are staying where they belong. The last thing you want is for the activity to be put on hold because someone stuck an essential supply in the wrong bin. 

Here are some of my favorite STEM activities that can be used as inside recess builds 

STEM Quick Challenges

This STEM resource is perfect for inside recess because it includes 12 simple STEM challenges that would fit into a school box. 

Activities to choose from include: 

  • Index Card Tower
  • House of Cards 
  • Pipe Cleaner Bridge
  • Popsicle Stick Catapult
  • Army Parachute
  • Fidget Spinners 
  • Building Squares Structures 
  • Dominoes Diving Board
  • Packing Peanuts Structures
  • Triangle Structures 
  • Button Designs
  • Button Towers

Another bonus with these STEM activities is that they can also be used for STEM soft starts (more on those here), in your regular STEM lessons, or after school clubs. 

If you are looking for some great supplies to have on hand for indoor recess STEM activities, here are the products I love. 

STEM Building Blocks

Math Manipulatives Linking Toys

indoor recess

Gears Building Set

Building Straws and Connectors Set

Brain Flakes Interlocking Disc Set

These supplies will give your students activities to do at recess that will engage their brain in STEM thinking as well as allow them to relax and blow off some steam during recess. With these activities, students won’t even mind when it’s time for indoor recess! 

What are your favorite indoor recess activities? Let me know in the comments!

indoor recess ideas

Fun End Of The Year STEM Activities To Kick Off The Summer

The end of the year is rapidly approaching! How excited are you? The end of the year is so fun for us and the kids. If you’re looking for a way to end the year with a bang, you have to try some easy end-of-the-year STEM challenges! 

Quick stem challenges are the perfect way to get students engaged in STEM thinking while having fun. This means you can easily add it to your lesson plans or even your class parties! Something I love about STEM is that a lot of times, students don’t even feel like they’re learning. 

end of year STEM activities

If this sounds like something you’d love to do but you’re a little confused about how it all works or what makes a good STEM activity- let’s start with the basics! 

What is a STEM challenge? 

STEM challenges are hands-on activities where students can research, design, engineer, and build solutions to the problems they are presented with. You can use any resources you have on hand to really encourage creative thinking! This encourages students to use their creativity, problem-solving skills, math skills, and more! 

What are some STEM project ideas? 

The sky is the limit with STEM! You can turn any project into a STEM activity with a little planning. For tons of STEM activities, make sure you check out my activities here. 

Looking for some great end-of-the-school-year STEM activities for kids? I have you covered! Here are two of my favorite STEM resources. 

End of the Year STEM Student Choice Awards

Have students create some snazzy end-of-the-year awards! These STEM awards require students to use simple supplies like tin foil and cups to create an Oscar! Once all of the trophies are done, hand them out to students Hollywood award show style. This is a fabulous way to reward students for all of their hard work this year and make them feel special. 

Popsicle STEM Activities

These STEM challenges for kids are the perfect way to kick off the summer season. This resource connects to the book The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle by Anne Renaud and Milan Pavlovic and it is sure to be a hit. This popsicle STEM activity allows students to research the invention of popsicles and Frank Epperson, the inventor of popsicles. Students will compare entrepreneurs and inventors. Students will problem solve and think critically as they complete their challenges. Connect research, history, economics, and STEM!

Both of these STEM activities are perfect for ending the year on a high note. If you are learning from a distance, don’t worry. There’s still plenty of STEM fun to be had. For end-of-the-year virtual STEM activities, check out these STEM challenges. 

If you are looking for more end-of-the-year celebration ideas, check out these ideas.

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