Adventures in STEAM September 2018

We have had a great start to the school year in STEAM class! I can't believe it is already the end of September. During this past month we have been busy with so many things. We met Isabella and her cat Applesauce, built bridges and coconut trees, and participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge. Read on below to see what each grade level accomplished during each session.

Sessions: For planning purposes, activities are broken up by sessions. DK and Kindergarten see me for STEAM on days 1-4 and technology on days 5-8. I consider days 1-8 to be one session. First grade is on a nine day rotation so one session will last nine days. We are at the tail end of session three for all students.

Session 1: DK, kindergarten, and first grade all met my teaching partner Isabella. She is approximately two feet tall with brown braided string hair. She is a puppet that has been developed into quite a person by the students. We read a book called Decibella that may or may not have been about Isabella. The book focused on learning different voice levels that should be used in school. Each student drew Isabella in their STEAM journal. The only difference between DK/K and first was that the first graders received a drawing lesson on how to draw Isabella. They were also encouraged to write a couple of sentences about her.


Session 1 Technology DK/K-Because the DK/kindergarten students see me twice in an eight day period, it only made sense to isolate their technology to teach them the basics. We spend 30 minutes on technology each session. We spent the first technology session learning the three rules of the internet: Always ask permission to use the internet, only talk to people I know while on the computer, and choose sites that are just right for me. I have been impressed with how many of the students remember these rules each time I ask them.

Session 2-DK/K-Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was the mentor text for this session. The students noticed that there was an orange cat at the top of the coconut tree in the classroom. Isabella introduced the class to her cat Applesauce. He was stuck at the top of the tree and didn't want any of the letters to be up there. The students were challenged to build their own trees using keva blocks and popsicle sticks. They then had to see how many letters they could balance on top.

Applesauce and the new trees

Session 2 Technology DK/K-For our second technology session the students learned what a digital footprint is. We looked at various types of digital devices and footprints. Some footprints are easy to get rid of such as a muddy dog print or ones from our shoes. A digital footprint, however, is one that never goes away. We discussed how their digital footprint is very small right now but the more they use technology, the larger it will become. We also talked about how there are some things that we never want in our footprint such as our full name, address, phone number, and school. By doing this, we become good digital citizens. The students ended this session by drawing the sites and apps they play on inside a footprint.

This student likes to play Mario on the computer.

Session 2-First grade-The book Stick and Stone was used as a mentor text for the first grade but not until the end of the class period, and I did that for a specific reason. The first graders met Applesauce in this session as well because once he came down from the coconut tree he ran from Isabella. She didn't want to lose her cat so she chased him. Eventually she ended up on one side of a river and he was on the other. The students brainstormed different ways the two could be reunited: swimming, taking a boat, and building a bridge. We had a quick talk about the dangers of rivers (strong currents and inconsistent bottoms). It was found that building a bridge was the way to go. The students were introduced to five different types of bridges: beam, arch, truss, suspension, and cable-stay. In groups and with different building materials, the students needed to build a bridge to reunite Isabella and Applesauce. It was interesting to watch the thinking process happen. Although there was one goal for the group, some decided they each wanted to build their own bridge, while some worked together. There were groups that became frustrated with one another and others just got along. I never intervened even when students came up to me. My response was always, "What are you going to do about it?" It wasn't what they wanted to hear, but it was important they heard it. At the end of class I read Stick and Stone. We then debriefed about the building process and frustrations some of them felt. We talked about the teamwork between Stick and Stone in the book, and it was an aha moment for many of them.

A few different bridges.

Session 3-DK/K-For this session, the DK/kindergartners participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge, which is an initiative inspired by the short video Caine's Arcade. Students were introduced to EETCHY, Isabella's friend from the outdoor classroom. EETCHY is a colorful caterpillar that helps students expand their oral and written expression. EETCHY's grandfather is the famous Very Hungry Caterpillar. This book was used as the mentor text for this session and students were able to choose whether to make a caterpillar or butterfly using either a paper towel or toilet paper tube. These turned out wonderful!

A very colorful butterfly!

Session 3 Technology DK/K-Now that we learned and know the three rules for using the internet and are good digital citizens creating a clean digital footprint, it was time to learn about the computer mouse and how to use it. We talked about hand placing and how to move the mouse so we can play games on the computer that help us learn. The students played a game called Bees and Honey that can be found on the useful links page of my website through Haslett Public Schools. We focused on the first two games. The first game has the students moving the mouse to hit bees. Their goal is to hit ten bees. It gets them used to moving the mouse around. The second game has the students getting used to clicking the mouse. The goal is to click open ten flowers. This game is much more challenging. The students know that when the arrow is on the screen nothing is going to happen when you click the mouse but when the arrow turns into a finger, that is when the click of the mouse will make things happen.

Session 3-First grade-What To Do With a Box was the mentor text with the first grade. I love the book for its simplicity and imagination. It shows all the things that can be created with a cardboard box. For this session, each class had a different theme of what they created out of cardboard. If they finished, they were able to make accessories to go with what they made. For example, one class made cats. Many students ended up making a cat house, stuffed animal, and other mini cats. I absolutely loved walking around and helping the students with their projects. I also enjoyed listening to their project take on a personality of its own whether it was a bat, cat, or owl!


The Dr. Seuss room showed kindness by filling the kindness jar with ten hearts. The tenth heart is a golden heart and when one of the students put it in, kindness spread around the room. They were so proud of themselves. Way to go Dr. Seuss room!

Donations Appreciated

To have a successful year in STEAM, I am going to need your help. Below is a list of donations that will gladly be accepted and appreciated throughout the year. If you are able to donate anything, please send them in with your child. Thank you so much!

  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Paper plates
  • Colored golf tees
  • Peg boards
  • Toothpicks
  • Straws
  • Craft sticks
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Q-tips
  • Spaghetti
  • Plastic bowls
  • Small cups
  • Coffee filters
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • String
  • Yarn
  • Playing cards
  • Index cards
  • Scrap paper
  • Newspaper
  • Tissue paper
  • Rubber bands
  • Paperclips
  • Scotch tape
  • Masking tape
  • Play dough
  • Marbles
  • Balloons

Contact information

If you have any questions, concerns, or happy thoughts, please don't hesitate to contact me at waughel@haslett.k12.mi.us


Created with images by Pexels - "abstract art backdrop" • silviarita - "flowerpot engine heart" • Florian Klauer - "vintage typewriter"

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