Combining Writing and STEM for an AWESOME Valentine's Day

3:00 AM

This year has been an adapted change for me.  This summer I read Fearless Learners and have investing time into learning how to make my classroom more student-led.  It is not as easy as I imagined, but some great new practices and ideas have emerged. One of these is STEM.  STEM activities are one of the best ways for students to practice what they are learning in science and lead within their own learning in science.  As I have been planning for my science instruction toward Valentines,  I began to wonder what kind of STEM could be incorporated into my classroom to have fun learning about science, yet be scientific at the same time. 

That's the thing I'm beginning to see in STEM.  There are times I wonder if science is even in there!  Not that I'm an expert, because I'm not.  (One good read of this post will show that!)  But, there has to be something more than having some fun.  It should be tied to something more than just wanting to do a project in class.  And, here was the thing-I WANTED to do a project!  Each year I write to this prompt! 

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I LOVE this project/prompt!  It is so fun to see what kids come up with each year.  Their tales are so wonderful.  Yet, one of the hardest things for them to explain was HOW they caught their critters!  And, I WANTED to do this project-and that's where STEM and Writing met up!  Catch a Critter is going to quickly become one of my student's favorite STEM activities. 

Find this STEM here

Out of the need to tie in the science, I began to do some investigating.  After all, I've seen these trapping STEMs over and over, but I wasn't really SURE what the actual purpose of building these were, besides creating a fun, engaging activity in your classroom.  I discovered this article and my eyes were open!  There is a lot of life science within this activity! So, let's break it down.

1.  They have to learn about insects to correctly devise a plan to trap them.  That means coming up with facts about structures and behaviors.  Now, this isn't true in every STEM trap activity, but why couldn't this be.  Why couldn't learning about structures and behaviors of any type of creature be where you start your STEM trapping experience with students.  It's where I am starting mine-even though some of my critters will be "monsters"! 

2.  Students need to understand the environment that they will be encountering.  What the weather is like, what the lighting is like, how the environment works, etc.  Without this, they may just set a trap the wrong way.  After all, some of the things we want to trap are quick and speedy.  Knowing where they might have the slowest movement might just help to trap them! 

3.  Students must also understand the engineering involved in the science.  Knowing how to work with the scientific discoveries within a trap are key to success with the trap!  They are not separate.  Yet, as educators, we tend to just throw in the engineering on this one.  The audience that they are presenting this to must match the build.  Nobody wants an ugly tap hanging in their tree.  That means understanding the community and the science to make both work hand in hand.  Big stuff!! 

So, where does this take my students and writing?  Students will design their critter trap with bait.  This means that they must make some decisions about what Love Bugs and Love Monsters would be attracted to, where in the classroom would they most likely trap them, and what bait will attract a Love Critter.  Then, they will design, build, and test their trap with things they think will work.  And, then, set them.

These cuties are pompoms and pipe cleaners.  The hearts are stickers!

This is where the classroom fun will take over.  I've made these Love Critters so far.  I will make a total of 5, as I will have 5 groups working to build the traps.  They will be hidden safely away until after school. They will then set out to try and be trapped.  Here's my guidelines for seeing if the student trap designs work.  I will guide the critter in, move it around the bait, and remove it.  If I can remove my critter without setting off the trap, that's it-it didn't work.  If the tap falls, they have officially "trapped" their Love Critter. 

After discovering if they caught anything the next day, I will introduce the writing project.  This will continue the story of this Love Critter into the observing and release stages of science.  Students will use the planning pages according to their need, as they are differentiated.  Students will work to share their ideas about what happens when they bring their Love Critter home and how they will finally let it go. 

Some of the past drawing work involved in this writing project.  

I have to say, I'm super excited to see how this will help my students with their writing this year.  It will bring this ideas down to a concrete level and allow for some more creative thinking!  I'll be sharing the results over at The Best Days Blog,  so click the Follow Me button to get updates about my posts! 

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Find this product at my store, The Best Days!  Other STEM and Writing Prompts I have developed include Snowmen Skiing Exploring Energy and Snowmen at Night:  A Narrative Writing Prompt.  (You don't have to read the book to do this one!)

I'd love to hear what you think about this STEM idea and the facts I've presented!  Feel free to drop me a comment!  Or, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram to share your thoughts as well!  

Julie :)

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by Julie from The Best Days Classroom

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  1. I think you posted on the wrong blog.

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