First Grade STEM Project #6


[Each week Ms. Darea’s first grade class has a STEM lesson that crosses the curriculum and lasts all week.  Here is what Ms. Darea had to say about Project #6]

We’ve been learning about apples for a few weeks.  We’ve read fiction and nonfiction books about apples in guided reading and self-selected reading.  We learned about the life cycle of an apple, read diagrams of apple cross sections,  and made apple sauce in science.  On Friday, we continued our subtraction lessons with some apple subtraction on the Mimio board.  Then, we had an apple taste test between Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith Apples.  We then made a bar graph on the Mimio board.  Granny Smith apples won!  They’re my favorite too!  After spending some time discussing the data, we transferred the bar graph information to individual picto-graphs that the kids completed themselves.  Once these were finished we read a book called Eating Fractions.  We then did some fraction work on the Mimio board, focusing on ½ and ¼.  Then, we made apple prints and labeled them with the fraction they showed, either ½ or ¼. 










First Grade STEM Project #5

[Each week Ms. Darea’s first grade class has a STEM lesson that crosses the curriculum and lasts all week.  Here is what Ms. Darea had to say about Project #5]

For our STEM project this week we first filled in a graph of different bats’ wingspans.  We analyzed the graph and talked about how bats’ wingspans are measured.  In the graph, the wingspans were measured in inches so we talked about how this is a standard unit of measurement and how inches can be found on the rulers that we have in school.   We compared inches to centimeters and determined that inches were bigger. 


I used a bat from an activity that we did early in the week to demonstrate how to measure the wingspans from tip to tip in inches under the document camera.   Each child was secretly assigned a bat from the 6 listed on the graph.  They then had to make a bat with the correct wingspan to match what it said on the graph.  

I showed them how to measure out the number of inches by marking from the zero on the ruler to the number representing the length of the bat’s wingspan.  We also talked about where to start measuring with the ruler because many children thought they either had to start at 1 or at the end of the ruler.  I showed them how some rulers have their zero at the very end, but some have space between the end and the zero. 


So once this was discussed the children marked their bat’s wingspan and connected the marks like a rainbow and finished off drawing their bats.  They had to measure to make sure the wingspan was correct before they cut their bats out.   Once all the bats were cut out, we switched bats with another student.  The students then had to measure another student’s bat to figure out which bat they had made by comparing the measurement to the graph.  Pretty cool stuff.

Freaky Friday always follows STEM and this week was super fun.  We took the kids to The Outdoor Learning Center to make bat boxes!  Eighth grade science teacher Ms. Chris was our volunteer for the week.  She showed the kids a completed bat box, talked about bat boxes a bit, and then we divided the class into two groups.  Each child had several turns whacking the nails into the boxes. 



What an awesome wrap up to a batty week!

First Grade STEM Project #4

[This is the fourth STEM project happening in first grade this year.  Be sure to check out the others by selecting STEM from the category selector over on the right sidebar.  This was written and submitted by first grade teacher, Ms. Darea]

This week’s STEM project revolved around leaves! 

The kids headed to The Outdoor Learning Center on Tuesday with their science notebooks.


Each student was given a green leaf.  In the screen house, we wrote down our pre-investigation in our science journals.  The investigation was to first predict what color their leaf was going to change in the fall and then to find a colorful match to their leaf. 



The next day, we went to The Outdoor Learning Center to collect some pretty leaves.  The plan was to bring them back to the classroom and spend some time identifying them.  But, we were having too much fun collecting to get back to the classroom in time!




On Thursday, half of the class stayed with me to identify their leaves, while the rest went with Ms. Gale to collect yet another leaf for their art project on Friday.  The students had to find leaves that would fit on an index card, so first they measured the index card with paper clips to see how long their leaf could be.  Then they took their paper clip chain out with them to find the perfect leaf.  When they were done, we switched groups.   Ms. Gale had made a book of leaves she had identified for a class and we used this to help with our identification.  I put it under the document camera.  This was much easier for them to handle than a typical field guide.


I then ironed the leaves between two pieces of wax paper.  I stapled a border around the edges and the students wrote the names of their leaves around the edge.  These made beautiful window decorations!


On Friday, for art, the kids did leaf rubbings with the leaf they previously collected and measured.  These rubbings were put on cards which will be used in writing in a few weeks when we learn how to write friendly letters!


For our final leaf project, we went to The Outdoor Learning Center to collect one last leaf. 


We used these leaves for a variety of math activities.


We did many things with our leaves one collected like measure the leaves with cubes to see how long they were, figure out the area of the leaves by covering them with pennies, count how long it took our leaf to fall to the floor when dropped, and measure how many pennies it would take to sink our leaves.

All of this information was recorded in our leaf books!



Once we completed all of these activities, we gathered data from the class about how many pennies it took to fill our leaves and made a line plot on the mimeo board.


 When looking at the line plot many kids were able to tell that the leaves which held only three pennies must have been pretty small leaves and the ones that held 25 or more pennies must have been pretty big leaves.  I asked what we could tell about leaves that held the same number of pennies.  One child said that maybe the leaves were from the same kind of tree.  Another kid said that we could tell that the leaves were the same size.   

First Grade STEM Project #3

(This is the third STEM project Ms. Darea has led her first grade class on this year.  Be sure to use the category selector over on the right hand side of this blog to select STEM to read and see about the others.  Below you can read what Ms. Darea said about this weeks project.)

We began learning about forests in science, social stuides, and guided reading this week.  Throughout the week we talked about what we could find in forest habitats, what we can get from forests, and shelters that different animals use in forests.  Before we went to The Outdoor Learning Center on Thursday, we made predictions in our science notebooks about what kind of shelters we would find.  While we were out, the kids were eager to explore everything from holes in the trees to under rocks and inside logs.  We found some pretty cool things!  They drew their observations in their notebooks while they were out there and some kids couldn’t stop!  A few sat down on the deck to finish up drawing while waiting for Ms. Gale to get back with the key to the room.



On Friday we looked at our post-investigation in our science notebooks where we confirmed our predictions of animal shelters and added others we found.  The children then went back to their observations and counted the total number of individual animal shelters they found.  The students made picto-graphs of the data they collected and organized.  We then compiled the data as a whole class and used the Mimeo to make a tally chart of each shelter.  It was fun doing this.  We went from group to group adding aloud as each student said how many of a shelter they had recorded on their graphs.  The mental math was pretty amazing! 


When all the data was tallied up we discussed the results.  I asked why they thought rocks were used to frequently as shelters.  One child said, “because it’s easy to for small animals to get under there.”  Another students said, “it’s makes it hard for bigger animals to find them.”  I then asked why they thought logs had such a low number and a student said, “probably because there weren’t too many logs out there.”  When comparing the number of trees that were counted as shelters to the number of logs, one student said, “there are way more trees out there than logs!”  Wow!  What a great group of thinkers! 



First Grade STEM Project #2

You’ll remember last week how Ms. Darea and her first grade class were using both her regular classroom and The Outdoor Learning Center throughout the week in an in depth STEM lesson.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  Teaching STEM lessons implements higher cognitive skills for students and enables them to inquire and use techniques used by professionals in the science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields.

Ms. Darea uses this cross-curricular method to instill critical thinking skills and provide hands-on math and science lessons which ultimately results in a deeper scope of study.

Throughout the week, these first grade students had been studying about farming.  They learned about the food system, how tools and machines make farming easier, and about crops and farm animals.  On Friday, they used the students’ cooperative art work to tally up animals, workers, farm machines, and crops that were represented on their farms.  They then talked about numbers and whether or not they thought that there were more crops and animals  or  farm machines on real farms.  This data was then graphed and analyzed. 


Finishing up the lesson at the Screen House in The Outdoor Learning Center



First grade STEM project #1

{First grade teacher Ms. Darea wanted to share how she is using The Outdoor Learning Center in combination with her classroom and technology to implement Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) into first grade studies.  She provided these photos and the explanation below.  Sounds like awesome stuff!}

Amazing things happened in my classroom this week!  We went to The Outdoor Learning Center for two days practicing our observation and recording skills.  On Friday, during my integrated math/science block, we organized the data we collected, made a pictograph on the Mimeo Board, and analyzed the data!  There was so much math going on it was ridiculous!  The kids were totally engaged for the entire hour and a half!  First, they circled all of the plants they observed and recorded in their science journals in green.  Then, they circled all the animals in blue.  They then counted these in cooperative groups of five.  Each person had a job.  There was a recorder, a plant counter, a plant counter rechecker, an animal counter, and an animal counter rechecker.  I recorded these numbers for each group on the two column chart.  Then, I put a calculator under the document camera and showed them how to add the large numbers.  They counted 100 plants as a whole group and 96 animals.  We then took the difference of the this and talked about the numbers a little.  We even broke it down a little further into how many spiders and birds were observed.  Most kids got to come up to add their group data to our pictograph.  It was truly an amazing experience.  Look for more STEM projects coming up.  I’ve allotted time to be able to do this each Friday.  Our work through the week in science will culminate in a big integrated project like this one on Fridays.  It’s encouraging that this one turned out so well!