Whilst Valentines Day may have passed, there is still a cross curricular loving relationship that can be enjoyed, and this is celebrating World Book Day via STEM activities.
There are plenty of design competitions that can go on including; making homemade physical or even electronic books, developing book covers (again physical or electronic), making bookmarks, character costumes, puppets or recreating experiments from traditional fairy tales, think magic porridge pot (discussed below).
Why not take a look at some of my favourite STEM meets World Book Day activities, and let the love blossom ?
- Stick puppets You only need an imagination, some mark making tools and lollipop sticks to create your own stick puppets. These can be your very own character designs and stories to act out, or, familiar characters to re-enact with. Take a look at wee mans Marvel Avengers stick puppets. I think they’re ‘Marvel’lous.
- Letter blocks – There are rules to learning literacy, and phonics explores these rules with children as they work through letters and sounds, CVC words, discover ‘one sounds’, split digraphs and so on. We can help children ‘construct’ their knowledge of this in a very practical way using individual letters, words or sentences on blocks for children to order and put together to make simple words right through to complex sentences.
- Three Little Pigs construction – An activity that you can do on a small or large scale is a re-enactment of the three little pigs story. You can use hay, lollipop sticks and stones for a small world re- enactment by constructing houses to place a toy pig in and seeing which one stays up (fascinating discussion then develops regarding why some may not be as strong as others – in my experience, this may be different to the story!) Alternatively, take this outdoors with larger hay bales, wooden pallets etc to make dens to hide in, or, to test which one can withstand the wolfs huff and puff!
- Loose Parts – It’s amazing what can evolve from loose parts, recently when exploring loose parts with some fabulous students, naturally creations that facilitated story telling and character creation were made. It is difficult to pick any favourites from this session, but below are 2 examples including story stones, and mermaid magic! What would you or your children have created with those materials?
- Magic porridge pot – I can’t tell you how many times myself and wee man have read the magic porridge pot, but even better, we have tried an experiment with household items to recreate the overflowing porridge. All you will need is vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, washing up liquid and food colouring (optional). Simply mix together using your own quantities to discover what causes the bubbling and expansion, and of course overflowing!
*Bonus Section* Here are some further STEM and story activities that can facilitate computational thinking skills in the early years:
- Algorithms are simply a set of instructions and rules, perhaps try back to back drawing whereby one person explains what to draw, and the other has to draw it. I’ve tried this with predetermined rules written in a specific sequence, and by using only a picture whereby the instructor has to make up the verbal rules themselves. The discussion can then develop on not only the character drawn, but the importance of effective rules and instruction (algorithms). Arguably, producing a story sequence sheet is producing an algorithm.
- Abstraction is sieving the important information from the less important information, perhaps play Charades or Pictionary where you represent a familiar story or character for others to guess what it is, perhaps throw in some red herrings. Gifford (1997) suggests that one of the best teaching strategies is playfulness. Playfulness is playful behaviour on the part of the teacher for example, deliberately pretending not to know how to do something, pretending not to understand what the child is saying, ‘tricking’ children and using humour Playful challenge allows children to abstract and work out what is correct/incorrect or more important… although I have had children work me out straight away “Fran you’re just kidding me!” I suppose you can’t always kid a kidder ?
- Decomposition of a whole class or family book project allows you to think about what you will do, and importantly produce a step by step plan on how you will achieve this project.
- Patterning – Noticing patterns is much more than noticing a trend, children work out the Attribute (what it looks like) the Core (what repeats) and the Pattern Rule (describe in words), there are so many literature based contexts that you could develop a patterning activity from, whether it be simply looking for patterns in the illustrations, or, copying and analysing ones you’ve made yourself. Either way, patterns are everywhere.
Here’s to a fabulous match made in heaven this week as we enjoy World Book Day and STEM!
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