Posted in Classroom, Education, Family fun, Parenting

Super STEM challenges 

You may have noticed on my Instagram I am often posting our latest STEM challenge.  You may be thinking what is a STEM challenge? Why do a STEM challenge?  Why does she love them so much? 

STEM challenge stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  It is a group challenge that is set that includes using aspects of these subjects aswell as cooperative learning and team play!  Sometimes these challenges can be adapted to a STEAM challenge, this is when Art is added!

I have found STEM challenges have improved the ability for students to work together, problem solve, communicate clearly, encourage one another and most importantly work as a team.  STEM challenges obviously help use their knowledge and skills in engineering, science, technology and mathematics in a practical way.  

Basically they are given a task with a specific purpose, having a mountain fun and working collaboratively to solve the problem.  Something we all have to learn to do when we join the workforce.  Students are given a set time frame, and materials.  They are able to use all materials or only some.  At the end we look at who completed the challenge and what obstacles they found.  We also have a team work discussion, talking about how we can improve our cooperation skills. 

Some examples of STEM challenges I have completed with my class are:

–  Creating a freestanding balloon tower with 10 balloons and a piece of masking tape.


–  Using ice block sticks and masking tape to create a bridge to hold the most weight. 

–  Creating a slingshot to send an army soldier the furtherest using 5 ice block sticks, a plastic cup, two rubber bands, tape and a piece of string.

–  Creating a Tinfoil boat that will hold the most marbles without sinking with one piece of tinfoil.

–  Creating an egg carrier for a running race.

The ideas are endless!  Why not try one these school holidays with the kids?  

Posted in Education, Parenting

Two quick and easy word games

Sometimes we just need to freshen things up for children to stay motivated in their learning.  Actually this is not just children we all need this in our lives, it keeps us motivated and pushing to the next level of learning.

Here are two quick and easy activities that make learning fun!

Colour palette rhyming words

Rhyming is an important skill in the reading process, it helps children notice the sounds within words, it shows them the rhythm of language which will help them to use expression and also helps them to make predictions when they read.  Eg. The boy read the b..ook (that word has the same ending as look so I will add the b sound to the beginning)

Grab some colour palettes from your local hardware store and write rhyming words on them.  You can first use these by just reading together each card and then later cut them up for your child to regroup them.

Ooooo Im a sucker for bright colours!

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Sight word match

I printed out my son’s recent sight words and stuck them onto some cars (pre approved by him of course) and then used the same words on the car track.  He had to find the corresponding car say it twice then send it down the ramp!  This had my three year old wanting to do the same!

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So there you are, two quick and easy games to try at home!  As I have said before I do love to hear from you and how they worked in your home!  Ive loved reading your messages!

Posted in Education, Parenting

Easy magnetic words

This is a cheap and easy activity for your child that helps them to identify letters, read, spell and write words.  So easy I have made an extra for a giveaway that I will share with you tomorrow!

I made this activity for $12!  It can be re-used throughout their schooling with their spelling words and is an easy way to make a mundane homework activity fun!  Of course if you already have a baking tray and the alphabet letters it can be absolutely free!

I laminated the word card so it can be reused but you could just as easy write your child’s words on paper and stick it on the tray.

You need:

1 cookie baking tray (Kmart had cheap ones!)

Magnetic alphabet tiles (I found they were cheapest at The Warehouse)

Washi tape or vivid to draw a line on the tray

Method:

  1. Stick washi tape on the tray to make a line for your child to make words on. You could just as easy draw a vivid line on the tray if you did not have tape.
  2. Write the word your child is focusing on paper and stick at the top of the tray.
  3. To start with you can have the letters they need to make the word jumbled on the line, this makes it easier for them to order the letters when learning the word.
  4. The next stage would be to put the letters jumbled at the bottom of the tray.
  5. When they are very confident you can put a group of letters under the line, some won’t be in the word so they have to identify what they need and order them on the line.




This activity can also be adapted to learn their names with younger children.  Why not give this a try I would love to hear how you go!

 

Posted in Education, Environmentally friendly, Parenting

Our wonderful worm farm

I know, I know it sounds gross right?  But its not as bad as you think!  After moving to our new house I  looking for a way to get rid of our fruit and vegetable scraps without going down the compost route (they can attract rats..i hate rats!) and a practical way to help teach the boys about caring for our environment.  After lots of research we decided on a worm farm, it wouldn’t take up too much space or my time and the worms create worm tea/wee that benefits the garden!

We have had a worm farm over a year now and have found it is so useful in our household.  It is very low maintenance and there is no need to touch the worms at all.  It was also very cheap to buy ($15) so it was a great investment for our first worm farm and you can build on it if you want more worms!

I have found that the kids are right into it, helping out feeding the worms, covering them over and collecting the worm tea/wee to use in our garden and to sell for pocket money!   It is a great learning experience for them in the way that they are learning how to look after our environment by using our food waste rather than throwing everything away.

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Our wonky carrots and in the background amazing pansy garden thanks to the worm farm.

Have I mentioned it is AMAZING in the garden?  Our summer fruit and vegetables have been abundant.  The worm wee/tea collects in the bottom of the worm farm, the worms turn the food scraps into a solid amendment called vermicastings, also known as worm casting or worm wee which speeds up the plant growth and reduced the effect of plant diseases and pests.  Although I have learnt I do need to water it down as it can be so strong on new seedlings!

Our watermelon and tomatoes from the garden.

Today Levi made some labels for the worm tea/wee to sell for some pocket money which was a fun activity to do together.  He decided on the wording…although I did talk to him about not labelling it Levi’s worm wee…doesn’t have the right message hehe!

Levi’s labels on the worm tea, “Levi is 5, Look worm wee”  I love the addition of the black barcode!

So if you ever get a chance or are interested I definitely recommend getting a worm farm at your place.  There are so many websites with information and lots of gardening centres and hardware stores that are willing to help.

Posted in Education

The wonders of clay

Today was the day…Levi has been asking for weeks to work with the clay since he received it for his birthday.  Levi has worked with clay at kindergarten and would continually go back to the clay table to create things, so it has been a perfect present for him!


Clay is not only used for the end product that is created, it has all sorts of benefits for children that is why it is often used in early childhood centres and schools.

Children enjoy experimenting with its mouldable texture which unlike flubber, or playdough it can hold its shape and be kept forever!  Clay has no right or wrong use, it can be kept but also can be used and then remoulded into something else.

Benefits of clay:

  • The use of all their senses
  • Action and consequence – the responses in the clay to their actions
  • Creativity & curiosity are stimulated
  • Muscles developed – poking, pinching
  • Hand eye co-ordination – squeezing, patting, pounding
  • Attention span – children can become immersed when working with clay and spend long amounts of time creating which is great for their attention span
  • Problem solving – this was a big part of Levi’s learning today as he wanted to create an animal house, but how would it stand up without going flat?  How could he create a hollow object.
  • Fine motor skills
  • It can be recycled

So why not try clay with your children?  Its an inexpensive activity with little tools required other than water and the children love it.  I promise its not as messy as you think!