Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
If you're looking for one last activity to round out your October programs, here are some great suggestions from Project Learning Tree (PLT). Halloween programs already nailed down? Be sure to add these ideas to your program resources file to consider next year.
This post by Jackie Stallard, Director of Curriculum & Partnerships for Project Learning Tree, highlights PLT activities paired with products from Your True Nature:
Get inspiration from nature this Halloween with themed bookmarks, campfire advice, and lesson ideas around science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
PLT has partnered with Your True Nature (YTN) to share Advice from Nature poetry with teachers and students. Explore YTN’s Halloween collection for a variety of seasonal fun and inspirational messages!
Halloween is a perfect time for students to learn about personification. Poetry can encourage this idea by inviting children to imagine what advice a creature in nature might have to say to them. Understanding that creatures are living things with their own unique experiences and perspectives offers youth and adults alike opportunities to connect with the world around us—and become inspired to both respect and protect it.
Some YTN Halloween-themed connections to activities from PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide include:
PLT’s Activity 23—The Fallen Log + Advice from a Spider
PLT Activity 22—Trees as Habitats + Advice from an Owl
PLT’s Activity 16—Pass the Plants Please + Advice from a Pumpkin
PLT’s Activity 81—Living with Fire + Advice from a Campfire
Campfires “Bring People Together”
A campfire can be a perfect opportunity to get inspired and creative through storytelling. Consider hosting one this Halloween to “Spark new ideas” and “Kindle strong friendships.”
You can pair YTN’s Advice from a Campfire with PLT’s Living with Fire lesson (Activity 81 from the PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide) to teach students the three elements a fire needs to burn and how an understanding of this “fire triangle” can be used to both prevent and manage wildfires. Use Project Learning Tree’s Living with Fire activity to further extend connections to science, technology, engineering, and math.
Before enjoying any campfire activity, remember to ensure your surroundings are fire safe!
See Jackie’s full post and sign up for PLT newsletters here: https://www.plt.org/educator-tips/halloween-poetry-campfires/
Also try these STEM Halloween challenges from Rebecca Reynandez of Spring Media Strategies, LLC:
Bones and Biology
1. Spider webs
Spiders may be creepy crawlies, but they are also master engineers. Similarly, making spider webs out of yarn is more than a fun art activity to do during Halloween. It gives you a chance to talk about these remarkable animals, their silk, and geometrical webs before your students get a chance to create their own designs. Encourage them to be inventive: no two spider webs in nature are the same, so their webs shouldn’t be the same either!
2. Paper bats
You’ve probably seen your students fly plenty of paper airplanes (with or without your permission). But what about paper bats? Getting a heavier, less streamlined body to stay in the air offers your students a whole different engineering challenge, giving your class a chance to explore concepts like aerodynamics and weight vs. lift –– as well as bat biology.
3. “Bone” bridge
Building a “bone” bridge out of q-tips, pipe cleaners, and clothespins offers your older students an in-depth, Halloween-themed structural engineering challenge that feels like holiday fun. These components aren’t just inexpensive: they’re able to produce a tremendous variety of structures, which means you can reward a variety of your students’ achievements, such as the strongest bridge, the most flexible bridge, and the bridge that can hold the most candy.
4. Articulated hands
Your students can play with skeletons in a biology or engineering class by making these paper, straw, and string articulated hands. Once made, these simple toys are more than fun Halloween fidgeting tools: they accurately convey how muscles and tendons move muscles within the human body.
The Great Pumpkin
5. Pumpkin investigation
Introduce the basics of scientific observation to your younger learners with this simple pumpkin investigation, which even includes a simple experiment testing whether your pumpkin sinks or floats. Of course, after the initial investigation, the class can carve the pumpkin together and roast the seeds for a full afternoon of Halloween fun.
6. Pumpkin elevators
Students in third grade and above are ready to tackle this in-depth engineering project of designing and building pumpkin elevators. The challenge works well with miniature pumpkins, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use smaller ones of the traditional variety. You can get creative with the materials, using boxes, paper clips, rubber bands, and other household items or recyclables.
7. Germinating pumpkins
Sometimes we forget that STEM isn’t just about design and building: growing things is a form of scientific engineering as well! Germinating pumpkins inside of miniature pumpkins is a very easy activity that can teach your students about seeds, soil, and caring for plants, as well as about the circle of organic life. A new pumpkin grows out of the decay of the old one within a couple of weeks! Then, depending on what climate you live in, you can plant the pumpkins outside and potentially see new growth from them in the spring.
Find these and more great ideas from Rebecca here: https://www.plt.org/educator-tips/stem-challenges-halloween