Year-Long STEM Challenge Review

My kids are all so very different from each other and what they take away from any experience is vastly different from one another. Their learning styles are just as different as their personalities. I have one child who constantly has to be doing something – whether with his body or having his mind challenged. I jumped at the chance to review Tied 2 Teaching because it was packed full of fun STEM challenges: STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading.

Not only do you have fun challenges but you also get some language arts in. You begin the lesson with a reading passage followed by some comprehension questions that force kids to think through what you just read. This reading passage will introduce your children to the STEM lesson that follows it. They can use what they have learned from the reading passage to help them figure out how to complete that day’s challenge.  If you have the reading passage open on the computer or tablet – you will also see some vocabulary words on the side.  You can hover over them to get the definitions of each word.

Here is how each STEM challenge is laid out. There are a few pages that explain what the challenge is. Different pages for different levels. It also lists the design criteria and material suggestions along with some questions for them to think about before beginning.

There are also a few different options based on their ability levels for them to take some time to plan their activity before getting started. Each page has the same ideas – just laid out in different ways for them to write or draw their ideas. Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Test, Improve.

My favorite part of the challenge is watching them attempt the same project in different ways. I do not help them unless it’s to hold something while they get it together. I give them the material list which is usually just one or two things and then let them find whatever else they may need to complete it. They are very resourceful when they are forced to think their way through the activity. Sometimes they come to me to talk through something that isn’t working well. These are my favorite moments in my day. They always figure out a way to make it work and I get to watch and listen.

Once they have finished the STEM challenge – there are some follow-up worksheets. The follow-up questions really help drive home what they are learning about. They go beyond just talking / writing about how they decided on what they were doing. They get your child thinking about how they knew if it was successful or what went well or didn’t well; even what they will improve on next time.

The final page of the challenge let’s them dig a little deeper by discussing what makes that project a STEM project. What science concept did it involve? Using technology to find out more about it. Talk about the engineering of it and how did math apply to each project.

Between the reading passage, the questions and the challenge itself – it allows your child to understand how that challenge can relate to the real world. Having seasonal challenges is great fun for them. There are so many fun challenges that we are excited about – build a lighthouse, a superhero challenge and the upcycled birdfeeder are a few.

Aside from the challenge itself – I really want to share a little about why I love adding this type of thing into our homeschool day. While these challenges are designed for 3rd through 6th grade, we use them with a 2nd, 1st and my preschooler just can’t help but join in – I mean, tape, glue and whatever else he can come up with – it’s perfect!! I love that we can all sit down and do this as a family, but what I love the most is how simple it is to do. My 1st grader needs a goal or he gets quickly out of hand. He hits, acts mean, etc. if he has too much free time. Something as simple as this project really speaks to him. He’s excited about the challenge and will work for hours on end to achieve it. Plus – with all three of them working on the challenges together – they talk about what they are doing and why they think their idea is best {I mean – obviously they just have to complete – right?!} At times, they also help each other out by solving a problem one of them may be having.  Every time we start working on one of our STEM challenges, it kicks me into gear to finish putting together our tinker kit for the kids to work with.

We have only finished four challenges so far but the kids are having so much fun creating things. They are excited for the next challenge. Which challenge will you do first? See what others are saying about these awesome STEM challenges by clicking the image below.

STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading {Tied 2 Teaching Reviews}
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