STEM: Play With A Purpose
We are heading into the last quarter of school. Time and time again, we see articles that stress the need for play in school, however we are also at the point in the year where we are testing our students and trying to make sure our goals are met. We see our “littles” struggling to stay focused even though the rigor increases.
What we forget though, is that when we have students create and play we are letting them problem solve, discover, and provide opportunities for team work.
I was finishing up my FOSS Balance and Motion kit and I wanted to find a fun way to let my students play. Mr. Rogers once said, “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning”. So as we headed into spring break and I could see it in their faces…they needed a break…and so did I. I tried to figure out a way to tie in the concepts of motion such as objects that roll and slide with a way for my students to PLAY! I loved playing Legos with my son, however now that he is almost 14 he doesn’t get that bucket out any more. What if I came up with a way to play with a purpose through that big box of Legos in our toy closet???
I set up 6 stations that provided motion activities…rolling marble mazes…Lego cars being raced and measured…! I couldn’t wait to see what they could do with buckets of Legos and a goal at each table. What I didn’t realize is that out of a typical class of 18, at least 4-6 students per class (I teach 5 sections of 1st grade per week) had NEVER played with Legos before! This made me sad, but what did I expect? I work in a school with 82% poverty and Legos are expensive as well as students that have not been able to “play” in school since they were 4 years old! I used to play for hours with my own children and I just guessed that my students would have, too! We don’t know what our kiddos do for fun when they get home.
My point today…my friends…take opportunities to find ways to add play into your school day! Through simple science activities and theme based STEM ideas you can tie in language arts…math…science…art…and hands-on learning to allow your students to simply just be kids! I will leave you with this…I looked into the faces of my students all week. I saw joy, wonder, intensity, teamwork. Whether it be Legos or blocks, straws or craft sticks…Students need opportunities to build.
Not a single behavior issue. No fighting or tattling. They could have been to all six stations, however they were so engrossed in their activities that they often forget that they could go to another table. Playing with a purpose…worth every moment!
Check out my website for more Simple Science ideas and Lego STEM Station connections at Science School Yard.