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Engaging, Hands-On Activities for Elementary and PreK

August 7, 2019

Are you ready to bring hands-on STEM lessons to your school this year? In Philadelphia last month, I had the chance to connect with hand2mind. They are a fantastic education company that offers a wide range of resources for classrooms. 

If you haven’t heard of hand2mind before, they have worked for over 50 years to produce thousands of resources for students and teachers that fall into a variety of curriculum areas. I want to spotlight two individual items I had a chance to see at ISTE. The first is one of the activities from their STEM in Action program. It brings coding principles to life for PreK-5 students. The second is  VersaTiles, which help students practice literacy and math skills.

Hands-On STEM Lessons

Whether you are searching for PreK and elementary STEM lesson ideas, or simply interested in what STEM education looks like at these levels, you’ll want to check out the STEM in Action® resources. STEM in Action is a series of modules designed for PreK-5 classrooms. Through the use of real-world problem-solving, STEM in Action integrates science, math, literacy and engineering skills into one place. It addresses the national and state standards for all of these areas and provides teachers with all of the materials they need in one place.

When I visited with hand2mind at ISTE last month, I had the chance to see a few of their STEM and coding resources in action. I was impressed at the amount of material ready for teachers to dive into and the ease of their different student-friendly tools. This page provides an overview of some of the STEM activities students can participate in as part of the STEM in Action program.

Coding Exploration for Students

The picture below is one I snapped while taking a look at their products. Coding Mouse Exploration gives students an opportunity to design the code for a programmable mouse. By writing code and debugging any issues that might arise, students can learn the foundations of computer science at an early age.

This particular activity includes a student book, teacher guide, coding cards, and grid. Coding Mouse Exploration lets students try out computer science skills through hands-on activities. You might have students sit side-by-side with a partner or work in a small group. There are lots of implementation options you can customize for your particular group of students.

Hands-On Practice with VersaTiles

In addition to the excellent STEM resources, hand2mind has lots of other products you’ll want to explore. One that stood out to me in particular was VersaTiles, which comes paired with workbooks that take students through a variety of different skills practice activities for math and literacy. The literacy content is around 80% science making it a great option for integrating STEM throughout the school day. 

VersaTiles ask students to answer questions and check their answers using tiles that demonstrate a pattern. I taught elementary school for several years, and this product was totally new to me. Looking for a tool that helps students practice math and literacy skills independently or in a small group? Then you’ll want to check this out.

I can’t wait for you to jump into the thousands of resources offered by the folks at hand2mind, including their STEM lessons. I’ve spotlighted two here in this blog post, but you can learn more about what they have to offer by heading over to their website!

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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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