Sunday, March 10, 2013

Super Structures

I can't believe how quickly today went by!  I am one of those people that hates to loose an hour of sleep.  It's hard enough getting up early, working out, and then getting 4 boys ready for school, then myself...I love my sleep so a day like today I feel cheated.  Tomorrow morning, bright and early I will wake at 5am, yes I said 5am!  In my eyes it's really 4am! drives me crazy.  My other problem is that I love to stay up late blogging and watching my favorite shows.
Grey's Anatomy

So here's the problem, with 4 boys keeping me busy all day long, I LOVE my peaceful nighttimes.  It's so hard to get myself in bed because the peace and quiet is PRICELESS.  So I stay up way too late, get little sleep, and then days like today with one less hour just DRIVE ME CRAZY!
OK enough complaining...Let's talk about Super Structures.  I love teaching STEM lessons and this particular unit is on 3 dimensional figures.  If you are unfamiliar with what STEM is, it is integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics into one unit of study to prepare students for the 21st Century workplace.  STEM instruction also incorporates STEM Standards of learning which are collaboration, inquiry, logical reasoning, and creativity.  I try to do my STEM centers 3-4 times a week.  Take a look at my kiddos working on 3 dimensional figures and 2 dimensional figures.

We began our unit of study by taking a structure walk around the school.  Learning needs to be REAL so I gave my kiddos blank paper and clip boards and we went around school and studied the buildings.  What shapes do you see?  What materials were used to build this building.  This activated our schemas and open the doors to new learning.
Here my kiddos are using their creativity making pictures using pattern block construction paper shapes.  They had so much fun creating all sorts of things!

The boys are using logical reasoning to solve mathematical questions about shapes like how many triangles fit into one hexagon?  How many blocks did you use to fill one hexagon?

My kiddos love this STEM center.  Here they are using cookie sheets and magnetic pattern block shapes to make designs.  We used our IPADS to take pictures of their creations and then I laminated the pictures for the class to try to recreate the design.  So fun! 

 We used recycable materials(tons!) to make our Super Structures.  This little kiddo had leprechauns on his mind and he made a trap to catch our Lucky the Leprechaun.
 Remember to have tons of tape available because they go CRAZY with it!
The engineering piece of STEM instruction is the fascinating part.  Now my kiddos take everything they learned about 3 dimensional shapes and apply it to real life.  Here we used marshmallows and toothpicks to make 3 dimensional shapes like cubes, pyramids, and rectangular prisms.  

Simple block building is now turned into an engineering masterpiece!  We talked about buildings and bridges and what shapes you see everyday.  Then my kiddos use that knowledge to build their own building or bridge.
Another favorite was making our Shape Monsters from Smeldley's Smorgasbord of Kindergarten, Shape Monsters activity!  Awesome and my kiddos went crazy with this.  They worked on their monsters for an entire hour.  The math activity included counting and graphing.  I LOVED how my kiddos took ownership of their monsters.

Now you can't learn about buildings and not read the story The Three Little Pigs, right?  It's perfect to teach structures and the my kiddos love hearing all the different versions that are out there.  We talked about story elements and we wrote about our own house and what we would build it out of.  
We had so much fun with this unit.
How do you teach shapes?


  1. Your little kinder engineers are amazing! I love seeing your kiddos enjoying these activities. So much learning going on! :) Lattes and Laughter

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I taught kindergarten for 18 years and loved it!


    Smiling and Shining in Second Grade

  3. I loved reading your post and seeing your kiddos engaged in such great activities! I definitely see many similarities in our teaching style! I'm all about hands on and inquiry based lessons. I had to laugh at the beginning of your post! I do the same thing. As soon as my family is asleep, I stay up WAY TOO LATE and blog or create on my computer! I pay for it the next day...with lots of coffee to keep me going!

  4. Looks like your kiddos have a really great time learning! Love all of the creative ideas for teaching shapes!! Thanks for sharing!