Before the holiday break, students (and teachers) are often looking forward to a few well-earned days off. This means their attention spans are short and their energy is high! Keeping kids engaged and focused on learning during this time is no easy feat. Over the years, we’ve heard from educators that teaching fun, hands-on STEM activities in the weeks before holiday break is a great way to reinvigorate students, channel their pent-up energy, and encourage learning even when they’re itching for holiday festivities. We love providing our blog readers with timely classroom activities and helpful teaching tips, so here are a few quick and easy standalone STEM activities that will get your kids moving, learning, and focusing. And if you want to do some activities of your own before break, try out our Engineering IQ Quiz!
Stranger Than Fiction
An educational game is a great way to break up a long school day. We love Fictionary—a vocabulary game that lets the whole class join in on the fun. The rules are simple: pick an obscure vocabulary word and choose a few students. Challenge them to write a made-up definition for the term on an index card. Then, read all of the definitions (including the real one!) aloud or write them on the board and ask the class to vote on which definition they think is real. For a STEM twist, you could ask students to define different fields of engineering, or you could find unusual technologies and ask students to write what they might be used for. Kids get the chance to use their imaginations and learn a new vocabulary word!
Another fun way to keep kids engaged is to get them out of their seats! Technology Tag is a fun activity from Engineering Adventures that gets kids up and moving while encouraging them to think deeply about the definition of technology. For this activity, you’ll label two walls “Technology” and “Not Technology.” Students wait in the center of the classroom while you read a list of items that are either technologies or natural items. To indicate their choice, they tag the appropriate wall. Students who answer correctly continue playing, and students who answer incorrectly are out! This is a great game that reinforces the definition of technology and address any misconceptions students may have about which items are technologies.
Make a Run for It
Tools of the Trade is another great activity from Engineering Adventures. For this activity, you’ll place an image of a toolbox and an image of the Engineering Design Process in the middle of the classroom. Then, you’ll divide students into two teams and line them up on opposite sides of the room. You’ll read students a problem from a list of scenarios. Teams get a few seconds to confer and decide if it is a problem an engineer would solve, then they send a representative to run to the center of the room. If the student thinks an engineer would solve the problem, they grab the EDP, and if they think someone else would solve the problem, they grab the toolbox. The first person to grab the correct image wins! This game addresses the misconception that engineers fix broken things, and gives kids a wide picture of what an engineer’s job might entail.
Let us know if you try any of these STEM-themed activities in your classroom this month by leaving a comment below! And don't forget to try out our Engineering IQ quiz to put your STEM knowledge to the test.