One of my favorite winter stories to read to my first graders is The Biggest Snowman Ever. This book is filled with themes about teamwork. After reading the story, I always take time for some really great conversations about why teamwork is important, how teamwork can help complete a job, and why working together is better than working by yourself. Click here to purchase The Biggest Snowman Ever on Amazon using my affilitate link.
After these great conversations, we are ready to begin our STEM challenge. I stress the importance of teamwork as I introduce the challenge. The challenge is to build the tallest snowman in the classroom using nothing but paper and glue. I give each group of 4-5 students a stack of blank paper and a glue stick. I tell my students that they can fold and stack the paper together any way they chose, but they cannot add any other materials for stability.
Before beginning the challenge, I like to have my students complete a STEM brainstorming worksheet (see bottom of post for this free download). I love seeing the juices begin flowing in their little brains as they work together as a group.
My students definitely struggle every year to find a way to get their snowman to stay standing. I love watching their creativity! It is wonderful to see my students working together and showing strong teamwork to try to get the job done. Successful groups usually realize quickly that it takes several students to hold up the snowman while they construct it. Unfortunately, most of the snowmen tumble as soon as they let go.
I only allow ten minutes to try to build their snowmen. Be prepared that by the end of the ten minutes, your entire classroom will be filled with paper snowballs. But, it is so much fun and SO WORTH IT! To end this exercise, I have my students fill out a reflection page to further reflect on their learning.
This is one of my favorite classroom activities that I now repeat year after year. You can download the STEM Challenge Pages using the form below. I hope you have fun learning and growing with your students this year!
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my affiliate links, which helps to support The Primary Brain blog. As always, I only recommend products that I love and all ideas shared are my own.Written on December 4th, 2017 by Laurin Brainard