STEM gives students the opportunity to be creative, problem solve, develop math concepts, develop hand eye coordination, develop fine motor skills (if the materials are small), and develop inquiry skills. STEM can occur all over the classroom not just in the Science center. In my classroom, I utilize the blocks center for STEM as well as my discovery center (my Science center). I feel that when students are building, they are little Engineers planning, designing, and creating amazing things!
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I have been using I Can Build cards in my classroom for a few years. So it was time for an update! Almost all my STEM I Can Build cards and posters now have real photographs! Research tells us to use real photographs with young learners so that is just what I did. I wanted to include some imaginary places too in my packs, so with places the Santa’s house and a candy hideout I use clip art.
Don’t these photographs look amazing? I want the photos to inspire and spark students’ interest in new places and things. Students can use the I Can Build anchor chart when they are stuck and don’t know what to build. My students use it ALL the time!
I want students to be able to plan what they want to build on “blue print paper” before they build or sketch their final structure.
If students sketch or plan before, it gives students the opportunity to plan out what they want to build. They use their imaginations, prior knowledge, and the photo to discuss with their peers. As they build, they can use the sketches/blueprints as a guide and edit and change them as needed.
If students sketch after, they can sketch their final structure. This gives students a time to reflect on the process: what worked, what didn’t work, what they changed, what they would do differently next time, any struggles, and any successes. Students can share their final structures with peers or the whole group.
Little learners may scribble, draw simple shapes or detailed sketches depending on their level. Celebrate every student at every level! Their scribbles will lead to bigger things. Don’t stress!
In my Discovery center, I always have a tub of small wood blocks or foam blocks. I added a mini I Can Build book to the tub. In my art center, I created a tinker tray with an I Can Build mini book. The mini books are super easy to add to any materials you already have in your classroom.
Drum roll please….. STEM DRAWERS!
So many of you share with me that you don’t have a lot of room in your classroom. STEM drawers are your answer!
You can have STEM in your classroom even if you don’t have a ton of space! Students just pull out a drawer and create. The rainbow drawers are from Michaels or you can use one like this. The small wooden blocks are Melissa and Doug brand.
Many of you have been asking for seasonal and themed I Can Build cards so I created a new STEM I Can Build BUNDLE! There are now STEM I Can Build cards for tons of themes, holidays, and seasons!
Each season has it’s own pack. For example, this is STEM Winter I Can Build. It includes the mini cards and full page posters for Christmas, winter, and Valentine’s Day. You use the Christmas cards in December, the winter cards in January, and the Valentine’s Day cards in February.
I just set up my blocks center with the Christmas cards and a few of the winter cards. Then I added Christmas building props to help students build what is on the cards. There are tubs of forest animals, polar animals, cotton balls (use for snow), pom poms (use for ornaments/candy), poinsettias, candy canes, jingle bells, bows, Santa, and a few elves. Santa and the elves were ornaments. Most of the props are from the Dollar Tree.
Look at the house one of my little Engineers created for Santa!
In the Discovery center, I added gumdrops, bows, mini erasers, and the Christmas themed I Can Build anchor chart to the top of the drawers. Students can choose to build anything from the chart or try the STEM challenge. The other STEM posters inside the folder make it easy to change out the challenges.
This is a gingerbread house one of my little Engineers created.
SPRING STEM inspiration!
Now for every season, theme, and holiday post the STEM I Can Build themed cards come with new props to make the center inviting and exciting for your little Engineers! Here is my Spring and St. Patrick’s Day themed blocks center (these cards included in the Spring I Can Build pack along with Easter, and Earth Day too).
Grab the STEM Bundle now and SAVE big! Update…THIS BUNDLE IS NOW COMPLETE! All the sets have been added!
You can also purchase the sets individually. STEM I Can Build (basic starter pack), Fall STEM I Can Build, Winter STEM I Can Build, Spring STEM I Can Build, Summer STEM I CanBuild, Transportation STEM I Can Build, Landforms and Habitats STEM I Can Build, and *FREE STEM Labels*.
If you want to see the STEM I Can Build Cards in action with prop ideas for tons and tons of themes, READ THIS POST!