I’ve taught kindergarten students their letters for many years now, and for several of those years, I searched for hands-on activities to help my students learn their alphabet. Frustratingly, I never could find what I was looking for. I wanted something engaging, interactive, and meaningful for all of my students. That’s when I finally realized it was time to give kindergarten stem a go!
I decided that what my students lacked in our alphabet unit was kindergarten STEM activities. That’s when I decided to put these two things together to create hands-on learning opportunities for my students. In this post, I want to give you a closer look at how my Alphabet STEM Start to Finish resource works!
What to Expect from the kindergarten STEM Challenge Resource
I recommend starting by doing one STEM challenge one day per week. This resource works out perfectly for teachers who have a letter of the week! You will be able to do one challenge per week.
Doing this one day per week gives you time to collect materials (if necessary) and gives you some time to reflect on your lesson before your next STEM challenge.
Now let’s look at the different parts of teaching with this resource.
1. Building Background Knowledge:
Building background knowledge is excellent for all students, especially for English Language Learners or learners who need extra support with language. I start every kindergarten STEM challenge by activating students’ background knowledge. I do this because I want all students to be on a level playing field as they are learning.
The first thing I like to do is look at what the letter’s topic will be about by exploring the mini-book. For example, the letter A unit focuses on Aliens and counting. I also use the standards list within the resource to determine which standards are covered within each letter.
You can access my letters A-E freebie here.
I ask students to think about what they know about aliens for one minute. I play music for them and let them think and draw what they know. After our minute, students turn and talk to each other and discuss what we know. Think-pair-shares like this help me scaffold the learning for students to be sure they understand what we are talking about.
Next, we read a mini-book related to the letter to continue building background.
The letter A mini-book is about aliens. It uses number words to talk about the different body parts aliens have. All of the mini books in this resource are aligned to Kindergarten standards in science, math, and social studies. Having mini-books keeps your literacy instruction meaningful by tying it to standards students will be learning across content areas.
2. Unpacking the kindergarten STEM Challenge:
Now let’s dive into how to complete the STEM challenge with your students! To begin, I give my students the Alphabet STEM planning sheet. Students use this sheet to draw out their creatures before getting their supplies. Creating a clear plan helps conserve supplies and strengthen executive functioning skills..
Students complete the top portion of the planning sheet. We usually take about 15 minutes to complete this part. After they finish, we share our designs with the class.
Students are tasked with making an animal that can stand on three legs and is at least four cubes tall for the letter A. Students are encouraged to add other body parts to their creations.
It’s important to remember that STEM is not crafting. The purpose of this is to teach students to think creatively, and problem solve. However, we include pictures for each challenge; it’s not for students. It’s only for teachers to see. We want to encourage students to complete this challenge independently. We also want to give them time to play and create something they are proud of.
Learn more about how to introduce STEM to little kids in this blog post.
3. Work for Early Finishers:
With any activity, you always have early finishers. Some kids just don’t take as long as others. That’s why I added writing sheets for each letter. Students will practice identifying, tracing, and letter formation on these writing sheets. Students will also practice tracing and rewriting a sentence. This activity gives students additional practice related to the week’s letter and theme.
4. Assessing Student Learning from kindergarten STEM:
The final piece of this STEM unit is the assessment portion. I like to have students use the bottom of their planning sheet to do this. We want to know what students learned from this activity, and these worksheets are a great assessment tool.
Reflection is an essential part of the engineering process. Students reflect on the STEM project they made by answering the questions on their planning sheet. Sometimes I also have students write or draw about what they learned on the back of the worksheet. Either activity allows students to reflect on their learning and show what they are taking away from the week’s lesson.
Teaching STEM to kindergarten students can seem scary if you’ve never done it, but I know that you will love watching your little learners create and make meaningful connections within your alphabet unit.
Want to buy the kindergarten STEM alphabet bundle? Click here to look at the complete resource on my TPT store.