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Sunday, March 9, 2014

{Fairy Tales} & {Knights & Castles}

 This week in Pre-K we did all Fairy Tale and Knights and Castle activities. Even with an ice day on Monday, we had a very busy and exciting week! I am studying the integration of technology and using STEM based learning for young children in school right now.  So for the week we did all STEM activities relating to Fairy Tales. Well, and one Nursery Rhyme. :) (Humpy Dumpty...he's technically a Nursery Rhyme, but he comes from a kingdom, so...) So if you are wondering...
The incredible thing is what I learned through this lesson. This week I discovered that preschoolers-specifically our sweet peas-can benefit from STEM based learning. This week has taught me that STEM does not have to be overly academic or above their heads to be relevant and to provide authentic opportunities for hands on learning. Even more amazingly, in my opinion, STEM is what we already do in preschool a lot of times: helping our students explore and experiment, make observations and predictions and integrating multiple skills in one fun lesson. To use STEM we can just expand our understanding and knowledge about using the right tools and opportunities for our students to get the most out of science, technology, engineering and math.
We did try to follow this process for our lessons:
So, here's what we did in Pre-K this week!
Our first challenge:
First, we needed a wall, so the peas set out to make Humpty a wall. They wanted to write, "Humpty Dumpty's Wall" over and over. Who am I to argue with creative impulse?
Next, we brainstormed what materials might protect Humpty. Our first experiment was to encase him in a ziplock sandwich bag with a protective material. We would then push him off the wall. They came up with some materials I thought of and a few I did not. One of my peas thought of putting water in the bag, something I did not think of. Very clever.
I hard boiled the Humptys first to avoid big messes.
We broke up into partner groups and let everyone find the materials they needed to stuff their bags with.

We prepared to make the push after reciting Humpty's poem each time.
For this lesson to integrate technology, we made our predictions using our ipads. Each group talked among themselves, then held up a happy Humpty or sad Humpty before the "pushing" to predict which way it would go.

But due to the nature of the experiment and the shape of the egg, only the water (pictured below) worked on this experiment! Humpty broke EVERY time except for when he was buoyant in the water bag. 
Since part of the engineering process is to ask how you can improve your design, we went back into our groups and discussed how we could improve our designs or how we could change our experiment to work better. The peas decided that we could drop the Humptys into a bowl that held each material instead of putting him into a bag with the material. So, the next day, we tried that.
And it worked.
We recored the results the same way.
Interestingly, the opposite was true for the water. Humpty hit the water hard and broke on the bottom of the bucket.
After recording and discussing our results, we did a little Humpty literacy for fun. We made Humpty's wall into a word wall!
The peas could use any environmental print in the room to add to the wall.
We just left it out all day and they added to it.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a word wall!!!
While we began our experiments, Pre-K 2 began a technology project of their own! They used the ipads to look up real castles, then they created castles of their own at art.

They also had wet sand to explore building their very own sand castles with!!

All of their talk about castles led to some impromptu castle building with the Jenga blocks!
Meanwhile, Pre-K 1 got their next challenge:
We read this story:
You know, the one where this happens?
And then I gave everyone one of these:
And here was our river with our sly fox:
So the peas got busy thinking. And thinking. And designing. We broke into groups which basically came down to the bridge enthusiasts and the boat enthusiasts. There was one big submarine proponent. We drew pictures of our designs and researched bridges and boats on our ipads.
 In the interest of keeping this not-the-longest-post-ever...I will only post some of the pictures of our experiments and post the rest to our shared site on Shutterfly. :) But here are a few!
Bridge building in action:
Here's some designs come to life:
A rainbow bridge:
And a few boat designs:
Let's just say that ol' wily fox didn't get our gingerbread men!
Next, our third challenge involved the three little pigs.
We provided six different building materials for the peas to build with. (legos, dominoes, logs, paper, pencils and blocks) They broke up into groups of three to build and then we put their houses to the test of the big bad wolf!
After they were done building, we tested their houses against the "wolf". Here's the "wolf"!
 It was very intense.
 Nail biting anticipation.
 Some people couldn't bear to watch!
We had a craft table set up so that they could choose to make piggy hats or wolf hats if they wanted to. So adorable!
After, we made a graph of which houses fell to the wolf and which houses the pigs prevailed over!
Meanwhile, in the blog post that never ends....Pre-K 2 was making the cutest knights ever!
 With tin foil! So clever and adorable!
 You can check these out on Pre-K 2's wall.
They also made a snack craft constructing castles with graham crackers and icing! That's some yummy construction!
Pre-K 1 wrapped up the week with a castle building project.
It was actually really hard to reconstruct the castle on paper. I'm glad we are practicing special reasoning skills early! Our little engineers had a great time doing this project and this may be something we incorporate more often. It was fun watching them work together for a common purpose!
I know this has a long post, but I'm happy to say that we had fun with science, math, engineering, technology, literacy, art, sensory AND we all lived happily ever after. Especially since we rounded out the week with Spring Break! Happy week off!


  1. This is awesome. About 15 years ago this was called mate. Math, science and technology in elementary education. There are some great resources that are called GEMS. There are various books focusing on what you did. Some titles are bubble festival, ladybugs, eggs, eggs, everywhere. It is out of California. Keep up the fabulous work. You have rejuvenated me. Can't wait to see what you do next.

    1. Thank you so much! I didn't know that about mate and GEMS, but that's really cool information and since I'm researching everything related to STEM, I'll be checking that out. Thank you for stopping by! :)

  2. oops.. Just reaized I had a typo. It is called MSTe not Mate