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STEAM Activities That Help Kids Get to Know Each Other



Year after year, it’s the same: you arrive on the first day of school to a classroom full of strangers and awkward silence. Try these activities to deviate from the usual get-to-know-you games and help children learn the names of their classmates while learning STEAM concepts.

Patterns—Making a Caterpillar

Children will learn about making patterns as they make caterpillars out of colored paper. Children will also learn their classmates’ names by writing their names on the caterpillars and using them as name tags for their desks!

What You Need

Talk Like Artists

  • Design: to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to a plan
  • Duplicate: to make an exact copy of something
  • Pattern: a repeated form or design that is especially used for decoration

How to Do It

  1. Look with the children to find patterns around them (such as on clothing, furniture, or book covers). Ask, “What can you tell me about patterns?” You may need to give children an example to get them started.
  2. Listen to the children’s ideas about patterns, and talk about the patterns as you make the caterpillars.
  3. Cut out circles from the construction paper.
  4. Have the children lay out their own patterns, such as blue, yellow, red—blue, yellow, red—and so on.
  5. Once the children have patterns, they can glue them onto the large pieces of paper to make caterpillars.
  6. Use crayons to color legs and antennae.
  7. Encourage children’s curiosity: Say, “I wonder—if we changed the order of the colors or the number of colors, then repeated them, would we still have a pattern?”
  8. Encourage children’s critical-thinking skills: Say, “What else can you tell me about patterns?”
  9. Once the children are finished with the activity, have them write their names underneath their caterpillars. Tape the papers to their desks so they have a fun way to remember patterns and get to know each other’s names!

Predict and Hypothesize

  • Problem-solve with the children: Say, “I wonder if we would find a pattern if we looked at pictures of real caterpillars.”
  • Predict and hypothesize the answer to the question. Test the hypotheses and chart what you discover.

Add more STEAM activities:

  • Science: Look for shapes in nature. Search for other patterns in nature.
  • Technology: Take pictures of patterns that you find in nature.
  • Engineering: Build a structure with a pattern using colored blocks or blocks of different shapes. Make a necklace by using different colors in a pattern.
  • Math: Show incomplete patterns with shapes: triangle, square, circle—triangle, square, _____. Ask, “What comes next?”

 

Class Reporters

Children will practice making surveys to collect data, a math skill that will foster learning about graphs and making comparisons. Children will also learn each other’s names by going up to classmates and asking each other the survey questions.  

What You Need

Talk Like Mathematicians

Compare: to look at two or more things closely to see what is similar or different about them

Gathering data: collecting information about a specific question

Graph: a diagram that shows a system of relationships among things. Graphs are also known as charts.

Survey: to ask many people a question or a series of questions to gather information about what most people do or think about something

How to Do It

Tip: In advance, create premade survey kits for the children. Each kit should contain a piece of chart paper, the pictures and names of every child in the class, and a precut image representing a question for the children to ask and images representing possible answers.

  1. Begin by asking the children if they want to become reporters to learn what things their classmates like the most. Explain that they will be conducting a survey with their classmates. Explain that mathematicians use surveys to help them find out what people like.
  2. Engage the children in a conversation about learning about their classmates. For example, say, “Should we learn about our classmates’ favorite flavors of ice cream?”
  3. Give each child a survey kit, a clipboard, and a pencil and have the children tape the appropriate question and answer images at the top of each column. Explain that the children must ask each classmate the chosen question and then tape each person’s name and picture in the column that matches his or her answer.
  4. Let the children circulate around the room to collect data.
  5. Once the children have finished collecting data, ask them, “Which column has the most images? How can we find out?” Invite the children to count the number of pictures in each column to find out which column has the most.
  6. Encourage the children’s curiosity by finding other things you could conduct a survey about. For example, say, “What do you think would be the favorite pet in our class: a cat or a dog?”
  7. Encourage the children's critical-thinking skills: Say, “What can we do to find out the class’s favorite pet?”

Predict and Hypothesize

  • Problem-solve with the children: Say, “Do you think we can find out how many people in our class like dogs?”
  • Predict and hypothesize the answer to the question. Test the hypotheses and record what you discover .

Add more STEAM activities:

  • Science: What is the class’s favorite plant?
  • Technology: What is the class’s favorite technology?
  • Engineering: What is the class’s favorite simple machine?

These activities are adapted from Simple STEAM by Marnie Forestieri and Debby Mitchell. Check out the full book for more STEAM activities for children ages three to six.



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