September 29, 2016

Halloween STEM Challenge: Treat Toss

Halloween STEM Challenge: Treat Toss is an engaging, collaborative, hands-on activity in which students design a device to toss candy to trick-or-treaters at a distance.


I'm so, so sorry ... I just checked the calendar. I have to inform you that Halloween falls on a Monday this year.  Let's stop here, so we can observe a moment of silence.

OK, let's be realistic: to achieve actual learning on Halloween and the day after Halloween, you're going to have to shake things up. This calls for a hands-on, ultra-engaging activity! Wouldn't you know it, I've got just the thing: Treat Toss! 


Premise:


Mr. Jones is sick. He wants to give candy to trick-or-treaters, but doesn't want to get them sick. He needs a device to allow him to toss the treats to the kids. In partners or groups, students design and build a device to help Mr. Jones toss candy to trick-or-treaters.


Halloween Ban?


If you aren't technically allowed to conduct Halloween activities in your classroom, not to worry! Connect this challenge with levers and other simple machines. There's no proprietary link between Halloween and candy. You can always find ways around a Halloween ban!


Where Can I Find Out More?

Want to know more about materials and how to modify the challenge for your kids? See the video below for a walk-through of all that and more.






Are There Others Like This?


Have we met?! Of course there are others! This is one of five Halloween challenges. Starting Sept. 8, I'll be posting one Halloween STEM challenge video every Thursday to my YouTube channel.

Until then, you'll find the Halloween bundle briefly described in this post

All challenges are available individually and in discounted bundles in my TpT store, as well.





September 26, 2016

The Twilight Zone: "To Serve Man" ELA Activities

7 cooperative activities to practice ELA skills: comprehension, making inferences, using evidence to support answers, identifying elements of plot (characters, setting, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution), theme, point of view, conflict, writing summaries, narrative writing, expository writing, and using persuasive writing in social media marketing.


You know that feeling you get in October, like the grind has begun? All that back-to-school adrenaline that got you through September has waned, and what remains is a looooong month ahead with zero days off.

Guess what? The kids feel it too. They're now firmly rooted in classroom routines, and they know what to expect from the year to come. While that can be comforting, there is a fine line between comfort and ennui!  

I was having such a month some years back when a colleague (shout out to Mr. Reagan!) told me he was going to introduce his 7th graders to The Twilight Zone. He felt "To Serve Man" (season 3, episode 24) was an excellent basis for working on a number of literacy skills, including creating plot diagrams and writing summaries. He was absolutely right; he's a smart guy! 

Engage students in cooperative activities to practice ELA skills: comprehension, making inferences, using evidence to support answers, identifying elements of plot (characters, setting, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution), theme, point of view, conflict, writing summaries, narrative writing, expository writing, and using persuasive writing in social media marketing.  

You can find this episode on Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. I've even embedded it below:



Thus began a new tradition for me, too! I'd wait for a gloomy October day, and when it arrived, I'd cancel what I had planned that day for ELA, and replace it with watching "To Serve Man" and follow up with a few activities.  It was always such fun to announce to the students, "Well, I had planned to xyz today, but this gloomy, spooky weather has put me more in the mood to watch an episode of The Twilight Zone. Has anyone ever seen this TV series? Let's vote - regular lesson plan or watch The Twilight Zone?" 

Of course, afterwards, we'd follow up with some lessons and activities. This evolved over time into seven activities, so you can pick and choose, or spend a whole week on it. I just always knew heading into October what my plans were for the month, but that the weeks would shift, so I could start the lessons when the weather matched the mood! 

You could also ignore the weather and plan these lessons the week leading up to Halloween. It can be difficult as an upper-elementary or middle school teacher to do something fun for the holiday without losing ground on all the standards that must be taught. This fits the bill nicely, and it's a student favorite year-after-year in part because of the surprise/timing and in part because they enjoy being introduced to classic TV as a means for practicing literacy skills.

Activity List

7 ELA activities to complement The Twilight Zone episode: "To Serve Man"

7 ELA activities to complement The Twilight Zone episode: "To Serve Man"




These activities are further described and come with supporting materials (comprehension questions & answers, center cards, plot diagram & storyboard templates, social media templates/links, and more) in my TPT store. Click on the image below to see the product preview.



September 22, 2016

Halloween STEM Challenge: Creature Catcher

Halloween STEM Challenge: Creature Catcher is an engaging, collaborative, hands-on activity in which students design a device to catch spiders or other creatures.


The first big holiday in the school year is a big deal! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so I always like to do fun -- but still very academic -- activities to capitalize on the students' excitement. This challenge fits the bill: Creature Catcher!

Premise:
In this challenge, students work in partners or groups to create devices to trap/capture spiders and/or other creatures of your choosing. You can look at it as a spider web challenge, but don't present it to students that way! It gives them preconceived notions, and you might be surprised at their creativity when you don't set them up with what you have in mind!
Creature Catcher Halloween STEM Challenge - Students build webs or other devices to catch spiders or other creatures.


Halloween Ban?

If Halloween activities are taboo or forbidden in your classroom, not to worry! Connect this challenge with food chains/webs, arachnids vs. insects and other tiny creepy crawlies, ecosystems, habitats ... the list goes on and on! You can always find ways around a Halloween ban! 


Where Can I Find Out More?

Want to know more about materials, how to add some complexity for older kids, and more? See the video below for a walk-through of this challenge as well as what you can do to modify for the savvy STEM challenger!

Creature Catcher Video





Are There Others Like This?
You know me, I hate to stop with one seasonal challenge, so I never do! This is one of five Halloween challenges. Starting Sept. 8, I'll be posting one Halloween STEM challenge video every Thursday to my YouTube channel.

Until then, you'll find the Halloween bundle briefly described in this post


All challenges are available individually and in discounted bundles in my TpT store, as well:



September 15, 2016

Halloween STEM Challenge: Bone Bridge

Halloween STEM Challenge: Bone Bridge is an engaging, collaborative, hands-on activity to keep students focused on learning before or after they say trick-or-treat!


The first big holiday of the school year is upon us! If you want to keep students engaged and working while visions of candy and costumes dance in their brains, you're going to need something special. Wouldn't you know it, I've got just the thing: Bone Bridge!

Premise:
In this challenge, students work in partners/groups to design a bridge for length, strength, and/or capacity.



Halloween Ban?
If Halloween activities are taboo or forbidden in your classroom, not to worry! Connect this challenge with the skeletal system, vertebrates & invertebrates, bridges & forces, transportation... the list goes on and on! You can always find ways around a Halloween ban! 


Where Can I Find Out More?
Want to know more about materials, how to draw the line between capacity & strength, and more tips & tricks? See the video below for a ~4 minute walk-through of the challenge.



BONE BRIDGE CHALLENGE WALK-THROUGH VIDEO:




Are There Others Like This?
But of course! This is the second of five Halloween challenges. Sept. 8 - Oct. 6. I'll be posting one Halloween STEM challenge video every Thursday to my YouTube channel

Until then, you'll find the Halloween bundle briefly described in this post





All challenges are available individually and in discounted bundles in my TpT store, as well:






September 7, 2016

Halloween STEM Challenge: Wings Wanted

Halloween STEM Challenge: Wings Wanted. Looking for a great way to keep students engaged, thinking critically, and working on hands-on problem solving? In this challenge, students create a new set of bat wings!



Kids have the worst time trying to concentrate on school the day of Halloween -- and it's even worse the day after! You'll need something extra engaging for them in order to keep their brains working at max capacity. Wouldn't you know it, I've got just the thing: Wings Wanted!

Wings Wanted Halloween STEM Challenge example Premise:
This is essentially a paper airplane challenge. Start with a wingless, bat body template and have students build out a set of wings to help it fly the max distance possible. You can also test for target accuracy and/or style, if desired.


Halloween Ban?
If Halloween activities are taboo or forbidden in your classroom, not to worry! Connect this challenge with lessons on bats in the ecosystem, food chains/webs, read Stella Luna and conduct bat inquiries ... the list goes on and on! You can always find ways around a Halloween ban!


Want More Wings Wanted Info?
Want to know more about materials, how to keep it simple for the younger kids, or add some complexity for older kids? See the video below for a walk-through of this challenge as well as what you can do to modify for the savvy STEM challenger!

Wings Wanted Video:




Are There Others Like This?
You know me, I hate to stop with one seasonal challenge, so I never do! This is one of five Halloween challenges. Starting Sept. 8, I'll be posting one Halloween STEM challenge video every Thursday to my YouTube channel.

Until then, you'll find the Halloween bundle briefly described in this post

All challenges are available individually and in discounted bundles in my TpT store, as well:



Wings Wanted Halloween STEM Challenge example






September 5, 2016

August 2016 Recap



I'm going to start doing monthly recaps just to let you know what I've been up to. I'm going to break this up into categories. This month, the categories are: TpT Resources, YouTube video posts, Blog posts, and Life. I'll finish up with a preview for what's on deck for next month at the end!

TpT Resources




I updated all five challenges in the Halloween STEM Challenge bundle! This was the first seasonal set I ever made, and I found that having spent the last year creating a total of 43 challenges I had a lot of new inspiration to make the Halloween set even better than before!  I added primary response pages, new extension ideas, links, and more! I know a lot of you own the bundle or some of the individual challenges, so be sure to download the new updates!







I also combined all 43 STEM challenges into a STEM Mega Bundle at a huge discount!





YouTube Posts


Back-to-School STEM Challenge: Apple Annihilator


Back-to-School STEM Challenge: Apple Ally


Back-to-School STEM Challenge: Apples A-head


(Note: Apples Aloft & Apples Afar were posted in July)

STEM Challenge Catalog


5 Reasons You (only think you) Hate STEM Challenges



YouTube Resource Round-up



Blog Posts





Back-to-School STEM Challenges 
(guest post on Hojo's Teaching Adventures)












5 Reasons You (only think you) Hate STEM Challenges 
(guest post on Minds in Bloom)












In Defense of the Lazy Teacher











YouTube Resource Round-up: Videos for Teachers






Life 


I moved to Washington State in January, so it's not even been a full year yet. I have been loving the gorgeous summer, going on hikes and entertaining guests with touristy Seattle fun. That's my best friend since 8th grade with me and that mountain hike just about killed me; my calves burned for days! By the time we made it to the city portion of the trip, we were hobbling around like little old ladies. See that smile in the Pike Market photo - that's the glee of standing still! :)




Coming Up - Stay Tuned!


- Product Updates for the Thanksgiving STEM Challenge Bundle.

- YouTube video posts for all Halloween STEM Challenges -- including ideas for how to use them if you're not technically allowed to do Halloween activities


- There's more, but girl's gotta keep a little mystery in her life!