Thursday, March 21, 2019

Tied 2 Teaching ( A Homeschool Crew Review)

I love using STEM activities in our homeschool.  It's a fun way to introduce Science and Technology into our day in a way that Garrett and Ashleigh really respond well to.  Hands on learning is always a huge hit in our house.  

Recently we were given the opportunity to review a collection of 60 STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading from Tied 2 Teaching.  With everything from seasoning activities like designing Cupids bow for Valentines day or a Leprechaun trap for St Patrick's day, to creating suspension bridges and spider webs, I knew that this would be a review right up my kids educational alley. 

About the Product

For this review, we were given a digital download that contained 60 PDF files, one file for each
STEM challenge. Each of these files is 21 pages in length and contains a link to a close reading selection (using the website which is created by the National Center for Families Learning), questions associated with the closed reading selection, a page introducing the building challenge for the lesson and a selection of sheets to walk students thru the process of imaging, plan, create and then improve on their creation.

The 60 challenges offer a wide variety of different possibilities for students to build with.  Ten of the challenges specifically require building blocks such as Legos while others use popsicle sticks, toothpicks, rubber bands, news papers and any other types of recyclable material located in the house.

For this review, we opted to pick three builds that we wanted to work on.  We decided not to work on holiday related units for St Patrick's day only because we wanted to showcase a few of the Challenges that might not be picked by other members of the Review Crew.  

Build 1 

Dad picked out our very first STEM activity, which was about UFOs.  Prior to doing this STEM challenge, I had printed out both the worksheets as well as the closed reading selection for the kids to read aloud together.  This particular reading selection discussed the question of whether or not UFOs were real and gave a few explanations as to what people might mistake for UFOs.  Following the reading, the kids were asked to answer questions in regards to what they read. 

With the close reading portion completed, it was time to issue the challenge.  For this challenge, the kids were asked to build their own interpretation of a UFO using building blocks.  They could design it any way they wanted, however, we had to be able to suspend the build from string in order for it to appear to be flying through the air.   Pages are provided for the kids to jot down ideas as to what they might try to build as they plan out their ideas prior to their actual build. 

And then it was time to bring out the building blocks :)

Asheligh's UFO.  She decided to go for a single alien space craft (complete with an alien flying it).

Garrett on the other hand went for a full spacecraft model that would house an entire crew of aliens.

Alien spacecrafts suspended from the ceiling fan.

Build 2

This weeks STEM lesson was about whether or not all birds fly south for the winter.  Again, we had a
close reading where the kids refreshed their memory about birding and National Bird Feeding month, which we participated in last month.  This reading was more of just a fun read for us, as the kids have been observing and caring for the birds in our yard all winter, providing seed and suet for the songbirds and sugar water for our hummingbirds that have stayed over during the colder months.  Just as the previous challenge, the kids were provided with a packet for the reading, the comprehension questions for the lesson, as well as pages for planning (and re-evaluate and improve their design afterwards).

For the build portion of the challenge, the kids were invited to build a birdhouse using recycled materials found in the home.  So, after rummaging through our recycle bin and collecting everything they thought they might want to use, they began the processes of their design.

Picket (our school mascot) investigating all the build materials piled up in the living room floor.

Garrett reading the challenge before getting started

Ashleigh decided to use a simple plastic gallon milk jug to make her bird house.  She spent most of her time drawing decorations to put on it then she actually put into making the house itself.

Garrett also decided to use a milk carton to make his house, but he decided to use a toilet paper roll to make a perch.  He also opted to cover his carton with paper in order to make a more attractive house.

Finished houses..  Garrett's sign above the house says "Welcome Birdies"

Build 3

Our third week had us learning about the meaning behind the Dog Days of Summer.  Both kids assumed this phrase was about it being so hot that the dogs didn't want to go out, but instead learned that it had to do with Sirius, the Dog Star.

The build challenge had the kids building a dog house.  For this weeks Challenge, both kids did the closed reading and answering the however, Garrett decided to do the build while Ashleigh contributed her stuffed dog.

This particular project was probably one of the best ones we've done so far, as Garrett had originally planned his idea out but then ran into some major design flaws.

He opted to build his dog house using his wooden building planks.  These are about 1/4 in thick, 6 inches long and 1 inch high planks and while they work well for building, he quickly started learning he was facing limitations.

Please ignore the Sprite Box, it's what he uses to keep his planks in.. lol 

In order to get his house high enough to enclose the dog, he needed to build his walls seven planks tall.  However, the stability of seven planks created very flimsy walls.

When he tried to put the roof on, the walls collapsed and he had to start over.  Back to the drawing board with his design.

So, Garrett went to the recycle bin and opted for using 4 coke cans to provide some stability to his corners of his walls.

Then he used additional planks to create a more weight bearing support for his roof.

And now the dog has a house ;)  

I really liked this challenge out of the three we used, because it really made Garrett think on how to improve his design as his originally idea wasn't working the way he would like.

Final Thoughts

With Tied 2 Teaching, we have a full year of STEM activities like the ones above that cover a wide array of different topics.  We really like that there are activities that can be fit in with holidays (although we opted not to use the Valentine day ones this year)  and that they all feature different ideas.  Some ask the kids to make structures that can support objects, others ask them to figure out ways to build vertical structures that won't tip over, while other's simply ask them to design something fun (like our UFOs).  We will definitely be including these into our weekly routine as it's a fun activity that the kids have enjoyed that his highly educational as well.

For more information about Tied 2 Teaching and their vast collection of educational materials, including the full year of STEM activities with closed reading, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media platforms.

Click the banner below to see other build projects and read reviews made by the other members of the Homeschool Review Crew. 

STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading {Tied 2 Teaching Reviews}

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