Storybook STEM Activities Kindergarten
I love to start off my school year with easy stem activities, to give my students an introduction to engineering concepts like identifying a problem, brainstorming ideas, sketching to communicate, selecting an idea, building a proto-type and testing it. These are all part of the problem-solving process and can be applied throughout life, not just in engineering!
While I love using Nursery Rhyme STEM activities, I also like to design STEM units around story books like "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" to create cross-curricular activities that will engage my students throughout all subject areas! Keep reading for some fun stem activities for kindergarten that revolve around "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom"!
"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" STEM unit, I start off with reading the book of course! I read it multiples times, until my students can chant it with me. I also set up my Listening Center with different read alouds of the book. My students scan the QR code to go to a SAFE link of a YouTube video! This way they're not exposed to any ads and they can't click any other links and fall into a YouTube rabbit hole! For example, this card has 2 QR codes - one that links to Ray Charles retelling the story, and the other to an animated version.
And of course, this is the perfect time for some vocabulary and schema building, so I also have QR codes to videos about the life cycle of a coconut tree, a coconut tree directed drawing they can practice, as well as some fun coconut songs.
For our science connection to "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" we use our 5 Senses to explore a coconut! This is a wonderful way to build vocabulary and schema! In my previous school, most students had never even seen a coconut, so this was a wonderful experience to share with them. Currently I teach on a semi-tropical island where coconuts can be found on the beaches, so my students are a little more familiar with them, but getting them to describe the coconut using a specific sense is still a powerful activity! And of course, you can't complete the 5 Senses exploration without a taste test, and taste tests are great for graphing!
Since I teach this unit in September, this is usually our first Engineering Challenge, so I make sure this one is easy but engaging, so that everyone is successful AND learns how to go through the design process.
This is my own sweet little guy when he was in my kindergarten class!
Best year ever!
One of the ways I get my students engaged in an engineering project is to clearly state the problem by reading them a challenge message. I have them examine the materials they're allowed to use, and then draw or write about their idea in a booklet.
Once everyone has completed the challenge (and this one is short, because we know attention spans in the beginning of the year aren't the longest!) I gather everyone together to discuss how it went - what went well, what was a difficult, what they would change for next time. We complete the last page in the booklet, drawing or writing about how the challenge went. Then I hand out the Challenge Certificates! Students love being able to take these home to show their parents they were successful in beating the challenge! I also add the materials for this challenge into our STEM Center, so that if they want to revisit it during their free-play time it is available - and they tend to use the materials for weeks afterwards, coming up with ever-more-fantastic ways to build!
Of course, I have to integrate "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" into our Math centers too! At the beginning of the year we're still working on 1-1 correspondence and number recognition, so counting activities are a must!
I absolutely love Roll & Cover games, so I always have them as a Math Center option. The key here is that once students understand how to play, all you have to do is change out the mats to renew their interests, without having to spend valuable time teaching them a new game format! For this unit I made a mat for 1 dice, so students can practice counting and number recognition from 1-6 (this is also great for subitizing!) then there's a mat for 2 dice so students can count or add to 12!
Pattern blocks are also an "always available" Math Center staple. Some students can create intricate, symmetrical designs, and some prefer to have some guidance. For those students, a coconut tree mat helps them get some practice with 2d shapes, while the response sheet lets them count and write how many of each shape they used!
Finally, we create a class book. This is exciting for my students, because they each get their own personalized page with their name! Check out how cute the cover is:
This page is EDITABLE, so you can change the name and year at the bottom!
Then, you simply type in all of your students' names and how many letters are in them and you get precious pages like this:
I have my students color them and then add stickers or stamps to spell their name!
My students always love reading the class book over and over again in our Reading Center! Some years, when I'm feeling extra, I even add the student's photo to the top of their page before laminating it and binding it in the book! This book stays in Reading Center for the whole year and continues to be a favorite!
And then finally, once we've finished with "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and are ready to move on to our next storybook (this is usually after 1-2 weeks) we create our crowns to wear home:
"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" is an amazing book that is perfect for the beginning of kindergarten because it lends itself to so many fun activities across the curriculum while still instilling concepts of print. This "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" STEM unit is one of my favorite units to teach, and I hope it will be one of yours too!