Monday, May 22, 2017

Creating Life Cycle Models

This was a very fun filled STEAM activity! Our first graders are exploring the lifecycles of various plant and animals, so for this activity, we studied the lifecycles of a frog, a butterfly, a plant, and an apple.  I'm going to tell you how we  integrated technology, science and engineering all in one activity!

First I'll talk about how we integrated technology and science.  To start the activity, four stations were set up around the room; students were asked to scan  the QR code at their station. They were taken to either an online book or video which taught them about the lifecycle of the plant or animal at their station.

Engineering was easily integrated into this project… each student had their own play dough and were asked to construct each stage of the lifecycle for their plant or animal.Some students rushed through constructing each stage quickly in hope they would be able to “play” with the play dough, so I found it very helpful to continuously remind the class to take their time and to make each structure look as detailed as possibly.  Overall, this project was very successful, educational, and fun for the kids!

Animal Classification Scavenger Hunt

Lesson prepared and recap written by Jessica Yandell:
In order to help our second graders become more familiar with animal classifications, we did an animal classification QR scavenger hunt during STEAM.  What I liked most about this activity was that it allowed our students to actively learn through exploration and problem solving.  

There were thirteen QR codes and pictures of different animals placed around the room. Beside each picture was a QR code with an animal classification question. Students had to answer the questions correctly in order to proceed to the next QR code; if questions were answered incorrectly, they would not be able to get through the scavenger hunt.  Students worked in pairs to complete the scavenger hunt.  

Things I found helpful… In order to allow more space at each station, I set up two scavenger hunts, one on the right side of the room and one on the left; I split the class in half and told group A their hunt was located on the right side of the room and group B was located on the left side of the room. Each group were responsible for filling out a scavenger hunt question sheet, which I felt help the students to stay on task, as well as, ensure they had answered the questions correctly.  If students filled in the wrong answer, they would have to backtrack through the hunt to reattempt the question and figure out their next QR code destination.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pre-K Early Coding Activities

Recap of Early Coding Opportunities for our preschoolers written by Mrs. Becky Wieldraayer: 

I was reading in TYC magazine (Teaching Young Children/Preschool) about activities to introduce young children to coding.   It suggested having the children play games that incorporate math and literacy.  We played board games like Hi Ho! Cherry-O , Chutes and Ladders .
The article also suggested some books to introduce coding.   We first read Mapping Penny’s World.    The book went along beautifully with our plant unit and our garden dramatic play center.   There were gardening books in the center that included maps of gardens.   Some of the students were so excited to draw maps of their plan for a garden.   Other students wanted to draw maps of their bedrooms.
The second book that we read was Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding.  This book talks about problem-solving, planning and patterning.  We had fun coding various sequences that included clapping, twirling, stomping and jumping.  The students used a Lego girl (they named her Mella) and using grid paper had to get her from a starting point  to ending point.   They had to do this by giving her commands such as two blocks forward; three blocks to the right, etc.   A favorite activity was hiding a ‘treasure’ in the room and giving commands to Mrs. Davenport to take steps through obstacles in the room until she found the flower.

It was so exciting when Mrs. Yandell came to our room with robots !   The students were well-prepared to understand what they were to do with the robots to have them move.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Family STEAM Night: Cardboard Challenge

Recently, Chattanooga Christian Lower School hosted our second "Family STEAM Night." This evening was a cardboard arcade challenge that was inspired by Caine's Arcade Global Challenge . We started the evening off with all family members watching the video about Caine and his arcade and the movement that it created (see right). We then told the families they had 30-40 minutes to create an arcade game and that we would play each other's games for the rest of the time. The parents were given this document as the movie was playing.

The setup for this event was easy...cardboard, lots and lots of cardboard. We also had packing tape, glue, hot glue guns, scissors, ping pong balls, sponge balls, dowels, string, markers, streamers, balloons, pipe cleaners and anything else we had crafty that we thought might spur the imagination of others. And in a story I couldn't have scripted any better myself parents supported their students creativity, got out of their way when need be, listened to their innovations, and helped their children engineer arcade games. It was a thing of beauty!

As the evening progressed I noted three main things:

  1. After being at this school for 13 years I see a level of heightened creativity in our students across the board. Our students don't wait around, they dig in. I know this can't all be attributed to our new STEAM program but creativity and innovation is blossoming as CCS due to the culture of acceptance of trying new things that is also growing. I was amazed at the different games that appeared but not just that, the differences within the games themselves. For instance, there were 3 different skee ball games but each were uniquely different from each other. The design processes varied tremendously. That was exciting to see each family interpret and create based on their own thoughts. 
  2. We are blessed by supportive administrators and teachers that see the value of STEAM at our school. We had all worked full days that day and I had said it was not mandatory for the teachers to participate but I stand amazed at those that have taken part in our STEAM Nights because they see it as a priority for our school.
  3. Children are creative by nature and when supported possibilities are endless. Very few parameters were placed on them for this event and they thrived. To have a multi-generational experience where the parents helped them critically think about the engineering dynamics was a beautiful thing to watch. To see parents help their children create a prototype of the images in their head was a lovely lesson of collaboration. To see parents follow the lead of their child to help them learn in the process shifted the parent/child paradigm in a unique way that evening that was a joy to experience. My favorite quote by a parent that evening that I overheard was "I'm not really sure what it is we are making yet but tell me where you want something glued and I can do that."
The video below is a simple compilation I created from the evening. It makes my heart happy to hear the students explain their creations. Enjoy and I encourage you to have your own cardboard challenge! Thank you to Conversant Group of Chattanooga, TN for sponsoring this night for our students. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Full STEAM Ahead: Native American Engineering

Native American Homes STEAM Engineering
Lesson Plan for 2nd Grade
Prepared by Mrs. Yandell


This is a collective of seven STEAM engineering challenges based on the homes of different American regions and tribes. Students will collaborate as engineers to complete this challenge.  


  1. 21st century Communication and Collaboration


  1. Become engineers for the day, and creatively design and build one of the structures out of limited supplies.


  1. Toilet paper cardboard
  2. Paper plates
  3. Tooth picks
  4. Popsicle sticks
  5. Glue or Tape
  6. Construction Paper
  7. Straws
  8. Coffee Filter


  1. Students work well together and communicate well as they complete a challenge structure.
  2. Students will identify various types of Native American homes, and be able to describe characteristics about each.
  3. Become engineers for the day, and creatively design and build one of the structures out of limited supplies.


` Wigwam          Long House

Tipi Pueblo

Hogan Plank House


Native American Home Recap written by Jessica Yandell

What I love most about STEAM lessons is that they incorporate multi subjects across the existing curriculum.  In this lesson we brought social studies, engineering, and art together while learning about Native Americans.  Students were given a hands on experience to learn about different Native American homes, and had the opportunity to construct 3D models of one.  They were given limited materials, and had to work as a group to design and build this project.  I truly believe that students will retain learned information in a unique way when you provide them with integrated activities using their hands. STEAM activities like this provides our students with the collaboration skills they need to be able to complete group projects and tasks well.  

Full STEAM Ahead: Gingerbread Man Trap

Kindergarten – STEAM
Lesson Plan
Teacher: Mrs. Yandell
Date: 11/29/16

Overview & Purpose

With Christmas in a few weeks, our kindergarteners will be reading books about the gingerbread man.  In this activity, students work through the scientific method to create a trap to catch the sneaky gingerbread man!

Education Standards

The students will observe the world around them by using their senses and various tools.
The students will ask questions, make predictions, and represent/record data.
The students will analyze and explain the data from an investigation.


  1. Learn the steps of the scientific method
  2. Observe a problem, and find a solution

Materials Needed

  1. Recycled Boxes, and other used supplies
  2. Gingerbread man


Steps to check for student understanding
  1. Did your group work well together?
  2. Were you able to share ideas?
  3. Did your trap successfully catch the gingerbread man?


Describe activity that will reinforce the lesson

In groups, students will work together to execute a solution to prevent the sneaky gingerbread man from running away.  They will work through the scientific method to design and build the most successful trap to catch the gingerbread man.  

Part 1:

We will spend the first class discussing the problem, and students will work with their partners to think about different types of traps.  Each group will draw a blueprint of their trap design and gathers supplies they will use to build it.  

Part 2:
Students will work together to build their traps from the recycled supplies they gathered.  Then they will test their traps to see if it works.  Finally, they will have the opportunity to trap and catch their gingerbread man!  We will use Seesaw to document this activity.

Kindergarten Gingerbread Trap Project Recap written by Jessica Yandell:

In December, the kindergarteners read many different gingerbread man books. Even in their classrooms they had houses for their own class gingerbread man.  I love opportunities where we can integrate engineering, math, and literacy all in one project.  This activity was split into two weeks. The first part of the activity we focused on reading comprehension; students developed a story map of what occurred in the beginning, middle, and the end. We also discussed problem solving.  The class decided that in the story, the gingerbread man kept running away and no one was able to catch him;  they agreed a trap could solve the problem.  

I let each student draw out a blueprint for a trap that would catch the gingerbread man. In the second part of this activity, the students were able to have a hands on opportunity to engineer the perfect trap!  It was fun watching them choose the perfect recycled materials to build their project, and of course they were excited to test the traps on their very own small gingerbread man!

Full STEAM Ahead: Can you undo water pollution?

Can you undo water pollution?
First Grade Lesson Plan
Teacher: Mrs. Yandell
Date: 11/30/16

Overview & Purpose

The first graders continue to learn about different types of communities and community helpers.  In this activity, students will learn about water pollution and  how they can help prevent oil spills.  Students will have a hands on opportunity to see how oil and other pollutants affect our environment, and decide if you can truly undo water pollution.    

Education Standards

  1. SS:N:1.4 The students will describe how the work that people do (police officer, fire fighter, soldier, mail carrier, baker, farmer, doctor, and teacher) benefits a neighborhood.


  1. How pollution affects our neighborhoods and communities?
  2. How can we prevent pollution?
  3. What type of community helpers research new ways to prevent pollution?
  4. Can you undo water pollution?

Materials Needed

  1. Garbage
  2. “Oil Spill” book
  3. Plastic containers
  4. Water
  5. Cooking Oil
  6. Gloves, Strainer, Coffee filter


Steps to check for student understanding
  1. Did your group work well together?
  2. Were you able to undo the water pollution?
  3. How can we prevent water pollution in our communities?


Describe activity that will reinforce the lesson
In this activity, we will start by reading the book “Oil Spill.”  We will discuss ways to prevent pollution in our community, and how we can be caretakers of our environment.  In groups, students will have a hands on opportunity to try and undo water pollution.  

Adapted by

Can You Undo Water Pollution? Recap by Jessica Yandell

This STEAM activity was too much fun, but I must say it was a little messy! One of the first grade integrated unit topics is on community helpers, which is why I thought it would be a good idea to show the students how scientists work hard to protect our community from pollution.  After we read the story “Oil Spill,” we learned that we do not have to be scientist to help prevent pollution, but that we can be caretakers of our community just by throwing away trash in proper containers and by turning off our lights to save electricity.  I love that this lesson integrates literature, social studies and science all in one activity!  My suggestion is to do this activity outside if possible!

After trying hard to clean their polluted water, our kids realized it is almost impossible to get all of the oil out of the water.  They agreed it is our responsibility to be caretakers of our community and prevent pollution!