STEM gives students the opportunity to be creative, problem solve, develop math concepts, develop eye hand coordination, develop fine motor (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). Because when students are building, they are 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 those places use clip art like Santa’s house and a candy hideout.
Don’t those photographs look amazing? I want the photos to inspire and spark students’ interest in new places and things. Students can do to 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 can use their imaginations, prior knowledge, the photo, and 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 these 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! Those 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 at your answer!
You can have STEM 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! I will be adding new sets over the next few months.
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 to 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 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!